South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith urges ICC to stand up for countries outside the Big Three

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Cricket South Africa director of cricket Graeme Smith on Monday called on the International Cricket Council to show leadership to prevent the sport from being dominated by India, England and Australia. Smith told a virtual press conference that the relationship between Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia is “absolutely tense at this stage” following Australia’s belated decision to withdraw from a three-Test tour of South Africa over concerns over COVID-19.

Smith was asked about CSA’s decision to write to the ICC describing Australia’s decision as “against the spirit of sportsmanship” and has implications for the credibility of the ICC World Test Championship.

“Most of all, the ICC needs strong leadership now,” said Smith. “I believe Covid is strengthening the haves and have-nots relationships across the board and how the future landscape will be handled.”

Smith said the future calendar of cricket was dominated by India, England and Australia.

“It makes it a huge challenge for the rest of the states,” he said.

“The game needs leadership right now,” said Smith. “It has to understand the complexity. I don’t think world cricket wants three countries to compete in ten years.”

The former Test captain said the dominance of the three major countries increases the likelihood of Twenty20 leagues getting “bigger and bigger”, leaving the lesser cricket nation with less attractive matches.

“I think it has moved quickly because of Covid. These issues are becoming more relevant and amplified. I think the ICC was a bit taken by surprise,” he said.

Monday’s press conference was convened to provide details on the remainder of the South African season, which will end in April with a recently announced white-ball tour of Pakistan.

The tour of Pakistan will give CSA another headache as it is likely to clash with the lucrative Indian Premier League, which is expected to kick off in early April.

Several of South African star players, including Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis and Anrich Nortje, are committed to IPL teams and have been signed by CSA.

Smith said ideally he would like to see all of South Africa’s best players available for the Pakistani series, but he admitted, “It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

“We have also made a commitment to release our players to IPL over the years. There has always been a window that we have been committed to as CSA and it is on the calendar. It is something that we need to discuss vigorously. “

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He said CSA was waiting for the dates when the IPL would be completed.

He said internal discussions would take place in “the coming days” after South African team management returned from a tour of Pakistan that ended on Sunday.

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