Former Australia captain Steve Waugh expressed strong criticism of South Africa’s decision to name seven uncapped players in their 14-man squad for the upcoming two-Test series against New Zealand in February. Waugh labeled this move as ‘disrespectful’ towards New Zealand cricket and called for the ICC to address the issue.
Waugh emphasized his disbelief at South Africa’s team selection, stating, “Obviously they don’t care. It’s going to happen if the South African Cricket Board are any indication of the future, keeping their best players at home. If I was New Zealand, I wouldn’t even play the series. I don’t know why they’re even playing. Why would you when it shows a lack of respect for New Zealand cricket?”
He further highlighted the broader trend of teams not sending their full-strength squads for international tours, citing examples such as the West Indies and Pakistan. Waugh expressed concern that without intervention, Test cricket risks losing its essence as a platform for players to test themselves against the best in the world.
Waugh added, “It’s pretty obvious what the problem is. The West Indies aren’t sending their full-strength side (to Australia this summer). They haven’t picked a full-strength Test team for a couple of years now. Someone like Nicholas Pooran is really a Test batsman who doesn’t play Test cricket. Jason Holder, probably their best player, is not playing now. Even Pakistan didn’t send a full side [to Australia]. If the ICC or someone doesn’t step in shortly then Test cricket doesn’t become Test cricket because you’re not testing yourself against the best players.”
The criticism came after South Africa announced Neil Brand, an uncapped player, as the captain for the two-match test tour of New Zealand, where the majority of their team will be missing due to their participation in the domestic Twenty20 league, SA20.
Despite the squad’s lack of experience, South Africa will play a three-day warm-up match against a New Zealand XI in Christchurch before the first test at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui from February 4-8, followed by the second test at Seddon Park in Hamilton from February 13-17.