Kagiso Rabada Slams Scheduling Fiasco In SA Cricket: 'Unacceptable, We Didn't Get A Choice'

The South African star pacer Kagiso Rabada, who is currently playing for Punjab Kings in the IPL, also offered strong support to the uncapped South Africa players who were put in that awkward situation for no fault of their own

(AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Punjab Kings' Kagiso Rabada celebrates the dismissal of Royal Challengers Bengaluru's captain Faf du Plessis during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Royal Challengers Bengaluru and Punjab Kings in Bengaluru, India, Monday, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Still bitter about the scheduling fiasco that forced him and other senior players to miss a two-Test series against New Zealand earlier this year, South Africa pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada says they were not given a say in the "unacceptable" botch-up.

As many as seven uncapped players were named for the series which was a part of the World Test Championship, even as first-choice players were involved in the SA20 league at home.

Neil Brand, who captained the team in New Zealand, made his Test debut during the opening game in Mount Maunganui and the hosts expectedly won the series 2-0.

Looking back at that controversial episode, Rabada hoped players will not have to go through such unsavoury moments again.

"It was very very unacceptable and remains unacceptable to date. It was obviously a planning issue. It is unacceptable that is all I would say about that," Rabada, one of the leading fast bowlers in the game, told PTI in an interview.

Rabada, who is currently playing for Punjab Kings in the IPL, also offered strong support to the uncapped South Africa players who were put in that awkward situation for no fault of their own.

"If I can go back on that point it is not fair to go at the players. It is not fair to say that players are being picked and they got free Test caps. I don't think it is fair to put that criticism on the players. They simply got asked to go there, and at the end of the day they are not going to say no.

"That is a planning issue and it has got to do with what is happening at the higher level; what happened with Cricket South Africa. It was basically a double book, that was what it was."

The presence of star South Africa players was important for the success of the young SA20 league and as a result, Test cricket became the casualty.

"End of the day, we didn't really get a choice to even go there (New Zealand) because of the importance of the SA20. It is like shooting yourself in the foot," said the 28-year-old who considers Test cricket as the number one format of the game.

"Cricket comes from Test cricket and Test from my perspective is the best format. I would imagine all great players who play all formats would say Test cricket is their favourite format. It is the same for me as well."

Ensure Tests thrive outside Big 3

At the moment, India, England and Australia play the most number of red-ball games in a WTC cycle, including five-match Test series against each other.

"When it comes to countries excluding India, England and Australia, it is quite unfortunate. The way that I see it, to become a powerful cricket nation without the advantage of currency and advantage of TV rights, it is about playing good cricket.

"The better you play, the more teams want to play with you. It is very hard to argue against why those nations would want to play with each other because at the end of the day, it is about sustaining the business of cricket which is to make revenue and that is how the game stays alive.

"How do you incorporate other nations playing the same amount of Test cricket...I am not sure. If you are looking at prolonging Test cricket, if you want kids to keep playing Test cricket globally, then a plan has to be made."

Rabada also lauded BCCI's recent move to incentivise Test players but felt that much more needed to be done.

"You pay cricketers (well) but it is a culture as well. It is not just about the money because the money these days the cricketers are blessed with. They can make enough money through the leagues.

"It is great what the BCCI is doing to incentivise Test players. But it is also a culture as all cricket comes from Test cricket," added the South African who has taken 291 wickets in just 62 Tests.