Cricket’s latest blow: South Africa’s final MCG Test?

    No South African player involved in the Boxing Day Test has ever played the fixture before and chances are no South African player ever will again.This is a deceptively significant and emotional Test match because if South Africa’s new T20 league, which starts next month, is anywhere near the success it needs to be then South Africa are basically done and dusted for MCG Boxing Day Tests.The fact that this seems set to be their 11th and final Test in Melbourne is a sad blow for cricket because the Proteas are such a magnificent foe.And they have always loved the ground.Respected South African broadcaster Neil Manthorp spent part of Christmas Day taking photos of parts of the MCG precinct believing this will be his sixth and final MCG Test, given the Proteas are likely to adopt the schedule of their past two tours here — play the series in November.Given that their window for hosting international cricket is now getting worrying small South Africa need to be at home playing their own Boxing Day Test.They normally are. The only reason this Test is in place because of a deal struck three years ago when Australia lured South Africa over on the promise of paying compensation for losing their own Boxing Day Test.But that board has since been disbanded and their cricket set-up has headed in a new direction and South Africa, while scheduled to tour Australia in four years time, are down-sizing their commitment to Test cricket with just 28 matches in the new four year cycle. The last Test match South Africa played at the MCG in 2008 is regarded as the greatest Proteas performance since they returned to international cricket post-isolation in 1991.The tourists had never won a series in Australia after 98 years of trying and, following their record-breaking 414-run chase at the WACA, they had their chance in 2008.But they were still eight runs away from avoiding the follow-on when they lost their seventh first innings wicket and looked doomed until fast bowler Dale Steyn (76) and J-P Duminy (166), in just his second Test, added 180 for the ninth wicket.Victory was secured by lunch on the final day with Steyn claiming 10 wickets in the match.The new league has been placed in the prime of the South African summer with no international cricket scheduled for the next five years in the mid-Jan to mid-Feb window. It effectively leaves only the December and March windows open for the country to host international cricket during holidays.Captain Dean Elgar said playing a Boxing Day Test at the MCG was “another surreal moment” and “the stuff of dreams.”Watch Australia v South Africa. Every test match live and ad-break in play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

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