Johannesburg: South Africa for the first time in two decades have dumped the traditional Boxing Day Test, played in Durban since Proteas re-entered international sport in 1992, in favour of Twenty20 internationals.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced on Tuesday that the Boxing Day Test would be replaced with three Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand over the Christmas period. The first Test will now be played in Cape Town in the New Year.

CSA's decision to dump the Boxing Day Test is a big blow for the oldest format of the game which is being threatened due to the increasing popularity of Twenty20s.

CSA chief executive Jacques Faul, however, defended the action and said it should not be taken as blow against Test cricket.

"We considered three important factors when we made the decision and in the end we decided it would make more sense to do it this way in terms of this tour," Faul said.

"We looked at the best interests of the national team, the fairness to the incoming team and the commercial aspect. I wouldn't say the decision was only a financial one. We still feel strongly about Test cricket but we decided that to do it this way would be best," he said.

The chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union was disappointed with CSA's move.

"We are extremely disappointed to lose the Durban Test. It's been a proud tradition to play this Test in Durban and it's a great concern to us," said Jesse Chellan, chief executive of KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union.

Faul asked fans not to read too much into the removal of the Boxing Day Test and said the itinerary was "the best fit" for the series against New Zealand which includes three T20s, two Tests and three ODIs.

Faul also said that the Boxing Day Test could also be renewed for the 2013-14 season when India tour South Africa.

CSA's decision could also transpire from the fact that South African have lost their last four Boxing Day Tests at the same venue against Australia, England, India and Sri Lanka.


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