England will play three-day Test decider with South Africa… but only after the tourists refuse to extend the match into an extra day to make up lost time after blaming ‘managing workloads’
- England’s third and final Test against South Africa has already lost two days
- Play was suspended on Friday following the death of Queen Elizabeth II
- That came after day one had been washed out due to rain at the Kia Oval
- But South Africa insist a busy schedule means they cannot extend tour
England’s deciding Test will go ahead at the Kia Oval on Saturday, but only after South Africa refused to extend the match by a day in an attempt to make up for lost time.
The ECB wanted to add an additional day on Tuesday after seeing the first day of the final Test washed out and then the second called off out of respect following the Queen’s death.
But South Africa said they were not prepared to extend their stay by an extra day and will head for home as scheduled on Tuesday to prepare for their white-ball tour of India.
South Africa coach Mark Boucher looks on at the Kia Oval ahead of the deciding Test match
South Africa cited ‘managing workloads’ for their decision, but they are not due to leave for India until September 23 and only six members of their squad — Aiden Markram, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen — will be on the plane.
Instead, sources told Sportsmail South Africa’s inflexibility owed more to pragmatism and their reluctance to risk another defeat that could jeopardise their chances of reaching next year’s World Test Championship final.
South Africa captain Dean Elgar talked a good game at the toss before rain hit on Thursday, saying: ‘There’s definitely going to be a winner in this Test, there’s no doubt. With the brand of cricket both teams are playing, along with the styles, there will be a result.’
Series is locked at 1-1 ahead of a decider, but the match can only be played across three days
But the actions of South Africa on Friday did not back up Elgar’s bravado, the board instead implying what Elgar said was simply hot air and they do not want to risk another damaging loss after their innings thrashing in Manchester. South Africa blamed schedules for their reluctance to stay another 24 hours when they put out a statement on Friday.
‘The ECB and CSA considered whether it was possible to extend this final match by a day but this was unfortunately not possible due to the Proteas’ schedule and the imminent departure of the white-ball squad for another two-month tour,’ read the Cricket South Africa statement.
‘Players have already been away from home for over two months and will have only a few days with families at home before leaving on their tour of India and then the T20 World Cup in Australia.’
The second day of play was suspended on Friday following the death of Queen Elizabeth II
So Saturday will be the third day of the Test, with 98 overs scheduled for each remaining day and Surrey banning fancy dress for the rest of the match, while also asking spectators to be in their seats by 10.30am for an on-field celebration of Her Majesty’s life.
Earlier on Friday, England captain Ben Stokes took to Twitter to urge the authorities not to follow football’s lead and ensure cricket went on, saying: ‘She loved sport, be honoured to play in her memory.’
Then, after talks that extended into mid-afternoon, the ECB released a statement saying all cricket, including the men’s Test and England women’s opening Twenty20 international against India in Durham, would go ahead this weekend. ‘The decision has been taken after consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and in line with official national mourning guidance,’ said the ECB. ‘Before each match a minute’s silence will be held followed by the national anthem.’
The delay came after day one on Thursday at the Kia Oval was washed out due to rain
That national anthem will be the first time when ‘God Save The King’ will be sung in public at the Oval, which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall.
The failure of the ECB’s attempt to extend the match reduces the chances of a winner of a series locked at 1-1.
But both the first two matches ended in three days and England have vowed to do all they can to force a positive result.
Before the Test, Stokes said: ‘If we do have a rain affected game it will be interesting because I know we’ll be trying whatever we can to win. We don’t play for draws.’
So there could be three exciting days ahead, with England bowling first after Stokes won the toss before rain hit on Thursday.