10 out of 16 members from the South Africa test team have come in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases, Cricket South Africa (CSA) revealed on Sunday.
“In the interest of CSA’s duty of care to its franchise players, support staff and stadium personnel, and in accordance with Government health and safety regulations, CSA has opted to postpone the final round of domestic fixtures of 2020,” CSA director Graeme Smith informed on Thursday.
COVID cases coming up in South African domestic cricket
This concerning announcement has put a hold on the ongoing South African domestic first-class season, while also putting the fate of the national team’s upcoming series against Sri Lanka in possible jeopardy.
The decision to suspend first-class matches comes in the wake of the second wave of coronavirus that has engulfed the country. Last Sunday, the 4-day match between the Titans and Dolphins had to be called off on the first day after a Dolphins’ player tested COVID-positive. While the remaining two matches did go ahead as planned; it has since emerged that the Lions vs Knights match also featured a coronavirus infected player. Thankfully, no one involved in the Warriors vs Cobra game has (yet) returned positive results.
Essentially, these implications put ten out of the sixteen South African players selected for the Sri Lanka home series in direct risk of COVID. Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis (Titans), Temba Bavuma (Lions), and Anrich Nortje (Warriors) didn’t play last week, so they are in the clear. Kyle Vereynne and Glenton Stuurman featured for the Warriors against the Cobras. At the moment, they also appear out of risk.
10 South Africa test players at risk of contracting COVID
But each of the other remaining ten team members have come in contact with positive COVID players. The aforementioned players are: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, and Lungi Ngidi (Titans), Rassie vd Dussen, Beuran Hendricks, and Wiaan Mulder (Lions), Migael Pretorius (Knights), Sarel Erwee, Keegan Petersen, and Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins). Additionally, reserve players Dwaine Pretorious and Lutho Sipamla (Lions) and Raynard van Tonder (Knights) are also unsafe.
Graeme Smith reasoned prioritizing the players’ fitness as the prime reason behind postponing the domestic four-day tournament. “CSA is committed to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020/21 season. The upcoming two-match Test series between South Africa and Sri Lanka will be played in a bio-secure environment. It is a more controlled space than the domestic competition,” he told Cricbuzz.
Priority on players’ health and safety: Cricket South Africa
Meanwhile, Victor Mpitsang, the convener of selectors, assured that the CSA will test each player individually before letting them into the bio-bubble. ”All the players will have to undergo tests before going into the bubble. Some players might have to delay joining the team pending medical advice.”
South Africa will be keen on going ahead with the Sri Lanka series as originally planned. Earlier this month, they had to cancel the ODI series against England due to a breach in the bio-bubble. Another canceled/ postponed series will put a strong tarnish on their reputation for hosting multi-national events in the future.