- Cricket South Africa’s interim board chairperson Stavros Nicolaou said they’re still confused by Cricket Australia’s decision to can their tour of South Africa.
- The three-Test series was going to take place through March as the visitors were set to arrive on 24 February.
- Nicolaou said several assurances were made for the Australian team to ensure the tour went smoothly.
Australia were due to arrive in South Africa next week for a three-Test tour that was going to take place through March.
Australia, who were out of the running for a spot in the World Test Championship final after losing 2-1 to India at home, then pulled out and cited South Africa’s Covid-19 fears as the major reason for not touring.
The tour cancellation, which is set to hit Cricket South Africa (CSA) hard in the pocket, led to CSA declaring a dispute with Cricket Australia (CA) with the International Cricket Council.
In a press conference on Friday, CSA interim board chairperson Stavros Nicolaou said they had sought several assurances with leading government and private stakeholders to ensure the tour was to go ahead smoothly.
“We also had, through health minister Zweli Mkhize, secured various assurances, also from the government and sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, that anyone from Australia who contracted the virus had to fly back home and arrangements would be made,” Nicolaou said.
“Arrangements were also going to be made with all the leading private sector hospital CEO’s that if any one or more of the Australia contracted the virus, they were going to be accommodated in a facility.
“Despite all the assurances, they still postponed and that left us confused and it was a unilateral decision. Our preference was for them to pick up the phone and go through the details for us to give further assurances.”
Nicolaou said CSA couldn’t understand CA’s Covid-19 related reasons for the tour’s postponement as they didn’t correlate with South Africa’s reduction in the infection rate.
“They cited two reasons, one of them being SA hitting a Covid-19 infection peak of the second wave while also citing that the second strain that hit our country was more virulent. Lastly, they felt that their players would be stranded here and not able to return to Australia in the event of contracting the virus,” he said.
“This confused us. We were puzzled because on the day we received the letter, SA was on a very significant downward trajectory. In fact, it had reduced by 75 percent on the day we got the letter. The reductions were progressive, so we didn’t understand when they said we’d hit the peak of our infections. We were actually levelling out, so we were very much confused.”
Nicolaou said Australia’s bio-bubble would of been far superior to what the touring Pakistan women’s team and Sri Lankan men’s teams were afforded in Durban and Centurion, respectively.
No positive Covid-19 infections were recorded inside the bubble for the duration of both tours.
“I say significant upgrades because the Pakistan’s women’s team and the Sri Lankan men’s team were provided with bio-bubbles that were not at the level that the Australians were requesting. We acceded to all of their demands. We had a very good bio-bubble strategy in place. We then received what we considered to be a unilateral decision from the Australians with regards to the tour’s postponement,” he said.