The Australian men’s cricket team’s Test tour of South Africa has been cancelled after long negotiations over biosecurity protocols due to coronavirus.
Cricket Australia (CA) last month named a 19-man squad for what was supposed to be a three-Test tour of South Africa, with the team set to depart some time this month, although the exact dates were never confirmed.
A statement from CA said it believed it had no choice but to cancel the series “due to the public health situation in South Africa”, including a second wave and a new strain of coronavirus.
“Following extensive due diligence with medical experts, it has become clear that traveling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said.
“We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA (Cricket South Africa) in planning for the tour, during which we made it clear that CA was prepared to take on additional cost and effort to make the series happen.
“This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time, our valued relationship with CSA, and our aspirations to compete in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.”
Australia’s top male players were supposed to be split across simultaneous series in two countries, with a limited-overs squad set to fly to New Zealand for five Twenty20 games, starting on February 22.
The plan for the squads, with more players now apparently available to travel to New Zealand, is not yet known.
Hockley said the plan was to reschedule the series against South Africa for a later date.
Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) chief executive Joe Connellan said while it was a disappointing announcement to have to make, the players association supported the “prudent decision” to call off the tour.
“The Australian players were ready for the contest with South Africa, especially to support South African cricket at this time … but this is the right call given the COVID data coming out of South Africa,” he said.
“It’s a decision based on the advice of the medical and health experts and that’s why the ACA supports it.
“The ACA offers its assistance to CA in exploring new options with Cricket South Africa for this series to be rescheduled.”
More to come.