Cricket world blasts 'pathetic' move after criticism from Pat Cummins and Steve Smith

The Aussie stars had both previously expressed their concerns about the 'weird' decision from South Africa.

Pat Cummins and Steve Smith, pictured here on the cricket field.

South Africa are copping backlash around the cricket world after naming a severely-depleted Test squad to take on New Zealand later this month. Neil Brand will captain the Proteas on the two-match tour, despite the fact he has never played Test cricket.

Only two players from the side who beat India in the Boxing Day Test will travel to New Zealand, with half of the 14-man squad yet to play a single Test match. And the reason why the majority of their Test players are staying at home is because Cricket South Africa is prioritising their new domestic T20 league 'SA20'.

All players with deals to play in the new league funded by IPL investors have been ordered to stay home instead of touring. David Bedingham and Keegan Petersen are the only players in the Test squad who featured in the XI that beat India by an innings and 32 runs late last month.

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Zubayr Hamza, Khaya Zondo, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson and Dane Piedt are the only others players with Test experience, while Brand captained South Africa A to a 2-1 series win over West Indies A earlier in December. Despite the lack of experience in the squad, coach Shukri Conrad insisted South Africa would prove competitive.

"The players picked for this tour have every chance of challenging New Zealand and we have full confidence they will do exactly that when we arrive for the first Test match at Mount Maunganui," he said in a statement announcing the team. "Most of these guys participated in the recent 'A' series against West Indies where they showed that they have what it takes against players of international calibre. That experience will no doubt leave them in a better position for what we expect to be a testing series in New Zealand."

Keegan Petersen and Neil Brand.
Keegan Petersen and Neil Brand in action for South Africa A. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Steve Smith and Pat Cummins rip South Africa move

But the decision to prioritise T20 over Test cricket has sparked serious concerns for the future of the longest form of the game. "That's not really what you want to see for Test cricket," Aussie star Steve Smith told AAP ahead of the Aussie summer. "Ultimately it's their decision as a board around what's important to them. But it's not ideal."

Aussie captain Pat Cummins said he finds the situation "weird" considering how much interest there is in Test cricket in Australia. "I don't know what to think, it's disappointing to hear," Cummins said. "It's weird, because in Australia Tests are so strong. The crowds are great, millions of people watch each summer. It's really well supported.

"It does feel like there's probably less countries than five or 10 years ago that are really putting all their resources into international cricket. I don't know the answer, but as a Test cricket lover, I hope there are 20 Test teams in another 10 years, not less."

Journalist Bharat Sundaresan wrote on social media on Sunday: "It’s seemed inevitable for a while but here is that seminal moment for Test cricket outside India, England, Australia and maybe Pakistan. Seven uncapped players and a new captain for South Africa on their NZ tour with most of their regulars missing owing to the SA20."

Others described the move by Cricket South Africa as "appalling" and "pathetic". Some even called for the New Zealand tour to be cancelled as opposed to sending such a weakened side.

South Africa squad for New Zealand Test tour:

Neil Brand (capt), David Bedingham, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin, Zubayr Hamza, Tshepo Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Dane Piedt, Raynard van Tonder, Shaun von Berg, Khaya Zondo.

with AAP

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