With India not touring before January 2018, South Africa are on the hunt for an opponent to play the Boxing Day Test. Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they are in the process of finalising the fixture. “We will have content for Boxing Day but we’re not yet in a position to announce that. We need to secure it first,” Lorgat said.
He added that a Test match would be preferred over the 50-over and T20 format. “First prize is a Test match. We would love Boxing Day and New Year to remain as Test content. I know in the past there have been one-day matches and there has been discussion internally to consider one-dayers, but personally I would love to see a Test match played.”
The Boxing Day Test continues to be a popular event when it comes to television broadcast. The CSA’s decision to switch to T20 in 2012 didn’t go too well as the purists were not too pleased with the break in tradition. The Boxing Day Test has been held every year since.
With Pakistan touring New Zealand early next year, they are unlikely to be available for the fixture. It could well be possible that Zimbabwe play their first Test in South Africa since 2005, and it could be a pink-ball match. Apart from Zimbabwe, West Indies are the other available team. Also available are Test’s new entrants Afghanistan and Ireland.
Once the fixture is sealed, South Africa will be set to have a long home summer featuring 11 Tests. Two against Bangladesh, one Boxing Day Test, four vs India and then four against Australia. India have a very tight calendar but CSA is hopeful to have the full series.
“We are pretty close to closing off with India. I’m hoping we can make some announcements towards the latter half of this week. It’s less than ideal – we would have loved that schedule to have been announced a long time back but it is what it is,” Lorgat said.