Proteas captain Dean Elgar will make an emotional plea to his IPL-bound teammates to show their loyalty to South Africa and delay their departure to India so they can be available for both tests against Bangladesh from March 31 .
South Africa are currently fourth in the World Test Championship and two tests at home against Bangladesh would normally be seen as an excellent opportunity to move up the standings.
But the IPL kicks off on March 26 and the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen all have lucrative deals with Indian franchises.
Elgar made it clear on Friday that he really wants them to be available for the Bangladesh Tests at Kingsmead and St George’s Park.
“The IPL is a headache and this morning (Friday) CSA said the players should give an indication of whether they want to play for South Africa or go to the IPL,” Elgar said. “It’s hard to put in the hands of the players.
“So this will be the test of where their loyalty lies. I will call them and remind them that they came to the IPL because of their performances for the Proteas. I will ask them not to forget where they come from.
“I wish I knew more about who will be available and who will not as most of my bowlers may not be able to make it for the Bangladesh Tests.
“Conditions will probably be more suitable for the opposition on the coast and we won’t have our A-side if I want everyone to be at our disposal. It’s a tough one for me,” Elgar said.
While the Proteas seem to have discovered their Test cricket mojo in the last nine months, Elgar stressed that Bangladesh cannot be underestimated or else Sri Lanka’s infamous 2018/19 breakthrough could be repeated in the same venues.
About the only positive for the Proteas would be the chance that the absence of the IPL players would reveal talents like Ryan Rickelton or Glenton Stuurman at test level.
“We need our best side because we cannot be disrespectful to Bangladesh under any circumstances,” said Elgar. “On their day they can really give us a headache, as witnessed recently with their win in New Zealand.
“The talent pool and ability is there for them. I don’t want our players to miss the IPL, but I hope playing for the country is bigger for them. They all play a big role in the team.
“We play so little test cricket so we can’t have our best players available if we do play. I’m sure I’ll have a few interesting days ahead,’ said Elgar.