The decisive Test between England and South Africa will take place today at the Kia Oval, but only after South Africa declined to postpone the game by an extra day to make up for a lost time.
After the first day of the last Test was rained out and the second was postponed out of respect for the Queen after her passing, the ECB wished to add one extra day on Tuesday.
However, South Africa stated that they were not prepared to remain an additional day and would return home as scheduled on Tuesday in order to be ready for their white-ball tour of India.
Only six members of South Africa’s squad will be travelling to India: Aiden Markram, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, and Marco Jansen. South Africa cited “managing workloads” as the reason for their choice.
South Africa Does Not Want To Risk Another Loss
Instead, insiders informed Sportsmail that South Africa’s inflexibility was more due to pragmatism and their unwillingness to take a chance on another loss that may jeopardise their prospects of making it to the World Test Championship final the following year.
Dean Elgar predicted a successful game during the toss on Thursday before it began to rain. ‘There’s definitely going to be a winner in this Test, there’s no doubt. With the brand of cricket both teams are playing, along with the styles, there will be a result.’
However, Proteas’ performance yesterday suggested that Elgar’s confidence was all hot air and that they did not want to risk another damaging loss following their innings thrashing in Manchester. When South Africa released a statement yesterday, they cited schedules as the reason why they weren’t willing to stay for an additional 24 hours.
‘The ECB and CSA considered whether it was possible to extend this final match by a day but this was unfortunately not possible due to the Proteas’ schedule and the imminent departure of the white-ball squad for another two month tour,’ read the Cricket South Africa statement.
‘Players have already been away from home for over two months and will have only a few days with families at home before leaving on their tour of India and then the T20 World Cup in Australia.’
All Cricket To Go Ahead This Weekend: ECB
The third day of the Test is now here, with 98 overs scheduled for each of the following days. In addition, Surrey has banned fancy dress for the remainder of the game and has asked spectators to be seated by 10.30 am for an on-field celebration of Her Majesty’s life.
Ben Stokes, the captain of England, earlier today urged the authorities to ensure cricket continued and not follow football’s example by saying: ‘she loved sport, be honoured to play in her memory.’
The ECB then issued a statement stating that all cricket, including the men’s Test and England women’s first Twenty20 international against India in Durham, will go ahead this weekend. The conversations had continued until the middle of the day.
‘The decision has been taken after consultation with the department for digital, Culture, Media and sport and in line with official national mourning guidance,’ said the ECB. ‘Before each match a minute’s silence will be held followed by the national anthem.’
God Save the King will be sung during that national anthem for the first time in public at the Oval, which is controlled by the duchy of Cornwall.
We Don’t Play For Draws: Ben Stokes
The ECB’s failed attempt to extend the game lowers the likelihood that a 1-1 series will have a victor.
But because the previous two games were decided in three days, England has committed to do every effort to achieve a favourable outcome.
Before the Test, Ben Stokes said: ‘If we do have a rain-affected game it will be interesting because I know we’ll be trying whatever we can to win. We don’t play for draws.’
Stokes won the toss before Thursday’s rainstorm, so there might be three exciting days ahead with England bowling first today.