The Proteas play their first international match since March when they take on England in the first of the six-match white-ball series on Friday — and there's a strong possibility that millions of households could be hit by a broadcast blackout.
Cricket SA (CSA) and the SABC failed to confirm on Thursday whether the cash-strapped public broadcaster would televise the limited-overs series with the first ball expected to be sent down at Newlands in Cape Town at 6pm.
Millions of cricket-mad households who expect the three Twenty20 and one-day internationals to be broadcast live on SABC3 could be disappointed after both organisations failed to provide assurances.
CSA acting CEO Kugandrie Govender and the SABC told TimesLIVE in October that negotiations were under way to sign a new contract based on the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Programme (FTP).
Govender said on October 15 that the public had no reason to be concerned as it was just a matter of CSA and the SABC putting pen to paper in time for the England series. But she confirmed last week on November 18 that a contract between CSA and the SABC was still not in place. The negotiations had hit a bit of a snag but Govender was still confident that a deal would be concluded.
Govender did not respond to questions e-mailed to her on Thursday morning. The SABC also did not respond to questions.
The SABC’s contract with CSA expired at the end of last season.
This means fans who cannot afford pay-channel SuperSport‚ which holds broadcast rights for domestic and international cricket‚ could miss the action of Friday.
Though SuperSport is the rights holder‚ CSA and the SABC have a government obligation to ensure that the national team's matches are broadcast live to the broader majority who rely on free-to-air.
Four matches will be played at Newlands Stadium with the other two games set for Paarl.
Boland Park in Paarl will take centre stage for the second Twenty20 clash against England on Sunday (2:30pm) with Newlands hosting the third and final match on Tuesday December 1 (6pm).
The teams will remain at Newlands for the first ODI on Friday December 4 (1pm) and the second match takes place at Boland Park two days later on December 6 (10am). The third and final rubber is set for on Wednesday December 3 (1pm).