South African cricket stands to lose as much as $20 million this summer
With the Indian cricketing authorities of the BCCI reducing their tour schedule to South Africa from three Tests, five ODI’s and two T20’s to a mere two Tests and three ODI’s its South African provincial unions and Cricket South Africa left
counting the costs.
Unfortunately for CSA, all the other major Test playing nations are all occupied in that time period, although only series at home to England and Australia bring in anything near the financial rewards of a home series against India.
Whilst neighbours Zimbabwe are available, the thought of a Zimbabwe versus South Africa test series is hardly as appealing as a test match at home to India. The same goes for Bangladesh – the only other test team available in that time-period.
Perhaps an idea thrown out of left field would be of more financial benefit to CSA. A
British and Irish Lions Test series. A British and Irish Lions cricket team? Why not?
Thanks to the weakness of the South African Rand, it would be far cheaper for British tourists to travel to South Africa than Australia, easier to obtain tickets – at a far cheaper cost than the price of an Ashes ticket.
British cricket fans arriving in their hundreds would bring in extra bums-in-seats on match days, along with the usual spending on beer, food, soft drinks and merchandise.
Statistically, South African cricket only earns big-money off the tours featuring England, India and Australia. The realities of world cricket. So a second British team would be a be a welcomed boost to all cricket boards around the world.
It would be financial boost that comes with touring Barmy Army fans travelling around the world to watch England, only with the added flavour of Irish, Welsh and Scottish supporters being finally given a chance to see their best players play test cricket for a team they can openly support which won’t always be the case when Eoin Morgan, Gavin Hamilton and Robert Croft are playing test matches for England.
Ireland and Scotland have appeared frequently at various ICC tournaments in recent times, several Welsh players can be found in the Glamorgan team and other county teams in England’s domestic cricket circuit. The three nations deserve recognition in the test arena.
The scenes of protest against Team GB for the Olympic football would be unlikely, given all the benefits of such a concept. If the ICC are serious about expanding the game, this is one possible outlet.
It would be a good platform to see how Irish and Scottish players perform in the test arena, a bridging-concept of sorts, before anyone lingers thoughts of either country
having a fully-fledged test team of their own. There’s also the small issue of someone designing the kit, someone else sponsoring it and the thousands of supporters buying the first ever kit of the British Lions cricket team.
The relevance of the English players in this Lions team would add extra spice to such a tour in its own way. Whilst the English section of this Lions team would consist of players overlooked for the Ashes, it does allow the England selectors a great platform to see the next crop of players perform against the number one test playing nation, South Africa.
Added to the intrigue would be the often-contentious dispute on South Africans who go off and play for England. Even with the likes of Trott and Pietersen out in Australia, there are still the likes of Dernbach, Meaker, Lumb, Kieswetter to provoke and irate South African crowds with their performances and reignite the debate of “foreigners” or “traitors” – depending on one’s view- playing for England, or the British Lions in this
With the large-sums of money floating around the T20 game, a Test series that may bring in money from the test arena whilst enhancing Test cricket at the same time is surely win-win for all. It won't have the history of the rugby version, but this concept could benefit cricket as much, if not more than what the rugby original does.
Regardless of whether it happens in 2013 or not, the concept is one that cannot be overlooked.
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