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Cricket South Africa insist they are committed to Test cricket despite depleted squad for NZ series

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has been forced into issuing a statement confirming its commitment to the international game, following criticism of a severely weakened Test squad.

The majority of Proteas' best red-ball players will not make the trip to New Zealand in February as they are held back to add star power to the domestic SA20 franchise league.

Just two of the players who impressively defeated the world's number one Test side India at Centurion in the Boxing Day Test have been selected, while Neil Brand was picked as captain despite being one of seven uncapped players.

The move has drawn consternation from those who wish to preserve the primacy of international cricket, and particularly the five-day version, with CSA attempting to quell such concerns.

A statement from the board read: "We reassure the fans that CSA has the utmost respect for the Test format as the pinnacle of the game we love.

"The dates for this tour were set when the future tours programme (FTP) for 2023-2027 was finalised in 2022. The window for the SA20 had not been determined at that stage.

"Once it became apparent that there would be a clash, we made every effort to find another mutually suitable time-slot for this two Test series in consultation with New Zealand Cricket.

"Regrettably the constraints imposed by the global cricket calendar rendered this impossible, as the games must be played before April 2025 as part of the World Test Championship.

"We commend head coach Shukri Conrad and his staff for preparing the selected players for this tour and we are confident that they will represent the Proteas badge with honour.

"It is an opportunity to demonstrate the depth of talent that we have in South Africa.

"Our schedule for the remainder of the FTP has been managed to ensure that there will not be any further clashes between our bilateral commitments and the SA20.

"CSA remains fully committed to international cricket and to strengthening the SA20, a tournament that was initiated by us to help grow and sustain the game."

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