South Africa’s women and A-team tours to the West Indies, scheduled to begin at the end of May and in mid-June respectively, have been postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Cricket West Indies (CWI) agreed to reschedule dates for the two series but will continue to discuss the possibility of the men’s two-Test and five-T20 series set to take place in July-August.
This is the second series South Africa’s women have had to forego after their home series against Australia, which was due to take place in March, was among the first international series to be postponed. The team has already qualified for next year’s Women’s World Cup and with the ICC’s announcement that the World Cup Qualifiers – due to take place in Sri Lanka between July 3-19 – will also be postponed, CSA and CWI agreed that the series between the two countries will not take place at the moment.
Similarly, the A-team tour, which was due to act as an advance party for the senior men’s tour, has fallen victim to the uncertainty surrounding international travel and potential quarantine requirements. South Africa’s borders remain closed as the country approaches seven weeks under lockdown, with no indication of when airports may be allowed to open to the public yet. However, with the senior men’s tour only scheduled to start in mid-July, the two boards remain hopeful at least some cricket between their countries can be played.
“The health and safety of the players and coaching staff is of paramount importance to both CWI and CSA and with the current Covid-19 travel restrictions, it is impossible for us to consider both tours taking place as we had originally planned,” Johnny Grave, CWI CEO, said. “We are continuing our discussions with CSA on the feasibility of hosting the men’s tour later this summer and will have further discussions in due course on new dates for the women’s and A-team tours.”
The feasibility of the men’s tour will depend on several factors including whether the teams have enough time to train for an international series. CSA’s director of cricket Graeme Smith said South Africa would need a minimum of six weeks to prepare, which would mean a decision would have to be taken by the first week in June. At the same time, CWI is also involved in discussions with the ECB about the possibility of playing three Tests in the UK in July which may push back South Africa’s visit to the Caribbean.
Although South Africa are keen to get on the park, CSA emphasised that health would come first. “It is a frustrating state of affairs in which cricket finds itself around the world, but there are more important issues that have to be confronted and the wellbeing of our players and support staff must always come first,” Jacques Faul, CSA acting CEO, said.
“Both our men’s and women’s national teams are keen to get back on the playing field as soon as possible. They want to build on their recent good results with the men achieving a 3-0 victory over Australia and our women coming so close to reaching the Women’s T20 World Cup final.”
South Africa’s players have not been able to train since March 26, when the country went into a strict lockdown, under which outdoor exercise was prohibited. Since May 1, South Africans can exercise outside between 6am and 9am but no group activity is allowed, which has resulted in CSA pushing back its planned winter training camps. (Cricinfo)