Australia Postpones South Africa Trip Due to Pandemic. Photo:
Australia Postpones South Africa Trip Due to Pandemic. Photo: Twitter / Cricket Australia

Cricket Australia (CA) has today announced that its Test tour of South Africa, which was scheduled to take place later this month, has been postponed due to health concerns.

Australia had named its squad on Wednesday, but today CA said in a tweet: “Today we informed Cricket South Africa that we believe we have no choice but to postpone the forthcoming Tour of South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

In a statement, CA’s interim CEO Nick Hockley said:

“Due to the public health situation in South Africa, which includes a second wave and new variant of the virus, and 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.

“We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA 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.”

“However we have been consistent since the start of the pandemic that the health and safety of our people is always our number one priority and unfortunately despite best efforts to agree to a biosecurity plan, the risks are simply too great at this time.

“As difficult and disappointing a decision as this is, especially for (coach) Justin (Langer), (Captain) Tim (Paine) and the team, we have a duty of care to our people and their health and safety can’t be compromised.

“We look forward to playing the series against CSA at a date to be confirmed in due course and we send CSA and the people of South Africa our very best wishes for a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and a return to normality soon.”

President Ramaphosa announces turning point BUT high risk of transmission still

Back in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday announced some relaxed restrictions – including lifting beach bans and alcohol bans – because he said the country appears to have passed its peak, with numbers of infected cases, deaths and hospital admissions starting to drop. BUT as there is still a high risk of transmission, the President said that although public pools, parks and beaches were to open, social gatherings – including at sports grounds – would not be permitted.

South Africa’s Latest Covid-19 stats

South Africa has recorded a total 1 456 309 COVID-19 cases, with 2 548 new cases identified on Monday evening, and 235 deaths bringing total deaths to 44,399.

Recoveries stand at 1 306 022, representing a recovery rate of 89%.

World Test Championship unlikely for Australia

Pulling out of the SA trip means Australia’s chance of playing in the World Test Championship is now unlikely. Australia, which also postponed its trip to Bangladesh, did not announce when the new tour dates would be.

This is the second major tour of SA to be cancelled recently, after England pulled out of their South African trip midway through an ODI series because a Proteas player and two team hotel staff tested positive for COVID-19.

The Australian Cricketers Association back the decision.

“The Australian players were ready for the contest with South Africa, especially to support South African cricket at this time with the added challenge of making the final of the ICC Test Championship,” said the ACA’s interim chief executive, Joe Connellan.

“But this is the right call given the COVID data coming out of South Africa. It’s a decision based on the advice of the medical and health experts and that’s why the ACA supports it.”