Cricket: Coach Shukri Conrad fires back over criticism of second-string South Africa test squad to tour New Zealand

South Africa have no alternative but to send a second-string squad to New Zealand for two tests next month and criticism of the controversial move is unfounded and unfair, coach Shukri Conrad said on Thursday.

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh suggested the Blackcaps should refuse to play the series, after South Africa named seven uncapped players in a 14-man selection for the matches starting on February 4, while several other commentators have also been critical of the move.

The fixtures clash with Cricket South Africa's domestic Twenty20 competition, which is seen as vital to the future financial health of an organisation that has been struggling for several years.

The country's leading players will therefore stay at home and skip the overlapping tour.

"I love how everyone outside the country have become experts on South African cricket," Conrad said.


Proteas coach Shukri Conrad.
Proteas coach Shukri Conrad. Photo credit: File

"Our hand has been forced. Everyone understands the SA20 has to happen - it is the lifeblood of local cricket.  

"If it doesn't happen, we won't have test cricket anyway."

Cricket South Africa said they had sought alternative dates for the tour to no avail.

Conrad backed the players that have been selected - with only batter David Bedingham starting the seven-wicket loss to India in Cape Town that levelled their two-match series at 1-1.

"It is still South Africa going to New Zealand. We sing the same national anthem and wear the same national team blazer. Anything we come back with, a draw or if we can sneak a win, that will be massive for us," the coach said.

He confirmed the team will leave for Christchurch on January 19, with New Zealand Cricket saying they are looking forward to hosting the tour.

Conrad will enjoy playing on more sporting wickets than the one at Newlands, which resulted in the shortest ever test in which there has been a positive result.

"It is a sad state of affairs when you need more luck than skill to survive in a test match," Conrad said of the loss.  

"Take nothing away from India, they were superb, but you are not going to win many tests scoring 55 (in the first innings).

"This has come as a shock to the system, but I will not lay the blame on our playing XI."  

The first test between South Africa and New Zealand starts in Mount Maunganui on February 4.