The South African government has given the green signal for England’s tour to South Africa next month, with the 50-over world champions set to play 3 ODIs and T20Is each.
Cricket South Africa interim chief executive Kugandrie Govender said, “This is a wonderful boost for cricket. And, although all the matches will have to be played behind closed doors, I am sure that our Proteas fans will rally behind South Africa’s favourite team as they always do, but just on alternative digital and social media platforms.
“The fact that England are the current World Cup champions will add tremendously to the two series and will give our own players every motivation to perform at their very best and challenge the acknowledged champions.”
It is understood that the South Africa government agreed to waiver the normal requirements for visitors from counties deemed ‘high risk’ in terms of Covid-19 infection, as is currently the case for the UK.
“I would like to express CSA’s appreciation and sincere gratitude to the South African Government,” continued Govender. “Specifically the Departments of Sport, Arts & Culture; Home Affairs and Health, for the support they have given us to make this return to international cricket in our country a reality, while maintaining that health safety for all remains the number one priority.”
The COVID-19 guidelines will ensure that England arrive just under a couple of weeks prior to the commencement of the tour and play their matches in only two venues, the Western Cape, Newlands in Cape Town, and Boland Park in Paarl.
The ECB are expected to charter a flight to Cape Town which will arrive on November 17, ahead of the first international match 10 days later. The squad will stay at the Vineyard Hotel and train, initially at least, at the Western Province Cricket Club ground where they will play inter-squad warm-up games. South Africa will later join them at the same hotel.
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“We are looking forward to touring South Africa,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive. “I would like to personally thank Cricket South Africa for their efforts in ensuring this tour goes ahead and their diligent work to create an environment that is safe for our players and staff. They are working tirelessly to pull together a bio-secure plan in Cape Town and Paarl.
“We owe it to the sport that we do everything we can to keep international competition progressing during this pandemic.”
It will be the first action for South Africa men’s national team since they returned home from India in March, when the pandemic hit. Shortly before that tour, they had run England close in another white-ball series, drawing 1-1 in the ODIs before losing 2-1 in the T20Is.
“Series against the Proteas are always exciting and intense. We saw that earlier this year in South Africa and we can expect the same this time around,” Harrison added.
An ECB spokesman added that the squads for the two series will be confirmed early next month. As for South Africa, Victor Mpitsang, former fast bowler has been appointed South Africa’s new convenor of selectors on Wednesday (October 21) and is the first person to hold the position full-time.
“For the last eight years since my retirement I have consciously looked to learn as much as I can about this game and I have put in many hours gaining that knowledge and experience,” the release quoted Mpitsang as saying. “When you retire from playing you always hope you can stay in and around the game somehow and make a positive contribution in some way no matter how small.”
Director of cricket Graeme Smith said, “The role… is an incredibly important one, which is why the process of appointing the eventual candidate has taken so long. We needed to be certain that we have left the role in the safest hands possible and Victor’s credentials speak for themselves.
“He has made it his business to know the ins and outs of cricket after his playing days, from (junior cricket), all the way to the senior Proteas men’s and women’s teams. His experience as a coach in our various development programmes means that he has the kind of knowledge and context that was crucial in our chosen candidate.”