The front page of yesterday's The Star newspaper read: "Players deserve better than this sham". The headline referred to the one-off Twenty20 international between India and South Africa at the Wanderers yesterday.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) honoured their commitment to Cricket South Africa (CSA) -- to commemorate 150 years of Indians' arrival in South Africa. The match, which CSA announced would be an annual fixture, has come under scathing criticism from former South Africa captain Ali Bacher, who feels that "India's players will feel cheated at facing a South African B team'.
Besides Jacques Kallis, skipper Johan Botha and Albie Morkel, South Africa fielded a crop of fringe players, against a near full-strength India T20 team. "The South African team has just arrived two days ago from a long tour of New Zealand. If they were not fresh enough to play this match, then why was it organised at the first place? India's players will feel cheated at facing a South African B team. It's tough to blame Gary Kirsten -- who wants to rest his players. India have travelled halfway across the world for this joke," Bacher told MiD DAY from Johannesburg.
Bacher also questioned the intent of the South African administrators. "Who are the sponsors of this match? One of the new newspapers in South Africa, and one of the senior executives of Cricket South Africa! Those are the things that are not sitting well. Who's gaining from this match? The crowds and players deserve better," he said.
Bacher pointed out that certain Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises are unhappy that their star players are missing preparation time ahead of the tournament that gets underway next week.
"If the IPL is starting on Wednesday, why organise a one-off match halfway across the world that is not helping anyone? Most of these players -- even South Africans -- will play the IPL. Soon they will all travel all the way back to India now. The irony of it all is that the match could have been washed out because of bad weather," Bacher fumed.