IPL 2022 – South African players undergo ‘litmus test of loyalty’

South Africa will give their players the choice of either going to the upcoming IPL or staying in the country and playing the three-ODI and two-Test series against Bangladesh, which starts on March 18.

The ODIs will take place on March 18, 20 and 23, while the tests will begin on March 31 and end on April 12. The IPL will begin on March 26 and run through May 29, with players having to undergo a mandatory three-day quarantine before entering the IPL bubble.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they will leave it up to the players to make the decision that Test captain Dean Elgar called a litmus test of loyalty.

“The players need to give Cricket South Africa an indication whether they’d like to go to the IPL or whether they’d like to play for the Test side. It’s a little hard to put that in the players’ box, but this I think this is where you see where player loyalty lies,” Elgar said. “They must not forget that Test cricket or one day cricket brought them into the IPL and not the other way around.”

11 South African players have been signed for this year’s IPL, including six regular Testers and three others who are part of the ODI squad. That includes the entire frontline pace pack — Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen — as well as batters Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and limited-overs wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.

On that list, Nortje has not played since last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE due to a hip injury, while Ngidi missed tests against New Zealand with a back problem. There is no update on their availability but both are said to be shoo-ins for the national side in red and white ball formats. Should they travel to the IPL along with Rabada and Jansen, South Africa will only have Lutho Sipamla, Wiaan Mulder and Glenton Stuurman as bowlers who have recently played Tests and the prospect without his best bowlers is a concern for Elgar.

“I wish I knew more for my own personal sanity and that I could prepare myself knowing that most of my bowlers may not be there if they choose to go the IPL route,” said Elgar. “If I don’t have everyone at my disposal, it’s a little bit difficult. It’s a bit difficult for me. I can’t get on the field without my best side. I need my best side there. If they’re not available, it’s something for us to sit down and get through.”

“You don’t want players to miss a big opportunity like the IPL. But I would still like to think that playing for your country is bigger than that.”

Dean Elgar, SA Test Captain

Elgar will take it upon himself to hold talks with his players in the hopes of convincing them to stay in South Africa and perhaps join the IPL at a later date. “I can just make them aware of their position within our set-up. They all play a big part. It’s up to me to go to each individual and remind them not to forget where they come from as players and where we come from as a group,” he said.

“The next few days could be busy and interesting for me. I owe it to our group to give them the best chance of making a decision. If that means making them aware of their position on the side, then I have to do that Because for me it’s about the bigger picture It’s about playing as much test cricket as possible We already play so little test cricket We can’t have our best players around when the team is called up to go out and performance.”

Despite his understandable preference to keep players in the country, Elgar understood the schedule was messy than usual as countries tried to make up for lost matches during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic and tours have lengthened to accommodate periods of isolation. to catch. “We missed two weeks of cricket trips to New Zealand and spending time in the MIQ. It was a headache for the FTP,” said Elgar. “Players lose in time because they have to respect their country rules and regulations. You definitely don’t want players to miss a big opportunity like the IPL. Your country is bigger than that.”

Whether all South African players feel the same way will become clear in the coming weeks. CSA chose to leave the decision in the hands of the players for the first time, “because we don’t want to force anything on them,” acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki said.

Last year, CSA released players to the IPL midway through a limited overs series against Pakistan, in which the players with an IPL contract played in the first two (out of three) ODIs, but left before the decider and missed the T20Is. That ODI series, like the upcoming one against Bangladesh, is part of the World Cup Super League and South Africa has dropped points against Pakistan. They are currently 10th in the points tally and are out of the automatic qualifying zone for the 2023 World Cup and will be desperate to make up some ground. That’s why they hope the players stay.

At the same time, CSA is well aware of the need to maintain a good relationship with the BCCI, which toured South Africa this summer despite concerns about the Omicron variant, bringing millions of rands to the treasury. For that reason, it may not be the worst thing for CSA if some players choose to fulfill their full IPL obligation. When asked whether this puts a strain on the relationship between CSA and the BCCI, Moseki replied, “We’ll have to sort that out.”

It can be noted that CSA decided earlier in January not to issue NOCs to centrally contracted players for the Pakistan Super League. Graeme Smith, Cricket South Africa’s director of Cricket, had told ESPNcricinfo that the board had chosen to prioritize the CSA’s domestic competitions.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South African correspondent

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