Even while the BCCI believes the series will go ahead as scheduled, the new COVID-19 variety, which threatens to wreak havoc in South Africa, has raised significant concerns regarding India’s tour of the Rainbow Nation next month.
About India’s Tour
India’s current situation, which includes three unofficial Tests in Bloemfontein, could be hampered as well. On Friday, the first game finished in a tie, and the second game will begin on November 29.
The India senior team will play three Tests, three One-Day Internationals, and four T20 Internationals over four venues in South Africa, beginning on December 17, for a roughly seven-week tour that will take them to Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl, and Cape Town.
Cases are increasing in the northern portion of the country, and at least two-Test series locations — Johannesburg and Pretoria (near Centurion) — may be vulnerable to the new variant’s spread.
A senior BCCI official told PTI on Friday: “Look, till we get a detailed picture of the ground situation from Cricket South Africa (CSA), we will not be able to tell our next step. As per the current plan, the Indian team is supposed to leave either on December 8 or 9 just after the New Zealand series gets over in Mumbai.”
The tour is now underway, but it is expected that the BCCI will speak with Cricket South Africa in the coming days about the discovery of the new strain — B.1.1.529 — that has raised alarm bells around the world.
Scientists predict that the high number of spike mutations in the novel variety could make it more resistant to vaccinations, more transmissible, and cause COVID-19 symptoms to become more severe.
The Netherlands withdrew from their continuing tour of South Africa on Friday, as the first ODI between the two sides was being played in Centurion, which was also the venue for the remaining two matches.
Cricket South Africa stated that a decision would be made within the next two days because the travel limitations that have taken effect as a result of the new variation had impacted airline alternatives for travelers.
As speculation swirled, Cricket South Africa stated: “A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered.”
It also added: “Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa over the weekend.”
Even though players will be sent on a charter jet from Mumbai to Johannesburg, the BCCI official stated that due to the changing conditions, players may be subjected to three to four days of harsh quarantine upon arrival.
A senior BCCI source said: “Initially, there was no provision for hard quarantine but the players will remain in a bio-bubble. Now with cases rising in South Africa and European Union also canceling flights temporarily, we need to factor in these aspects.”
PTI has reached out to a member of the administrative staff who is now in Bloemfontein with the India A team, who are playing two unofficial Tests as part of a shadow tour.
“We didn’t undergo any hard quarantine on arrival over here since we came by charter flight and are staying in a bio-bubble. After the outbreak, a medical team from Cricket South Africa had a meeting with our representatives over here.”
The official said over the phone: “We were told that there is nothing to worry about since the spike in cases is far away from Bloemfontein where we would be playing our next match too.”
He added: “We were told specifically that Bloemfontein is unaffected by the spike in COVID cases and also it’s happening in the northern part of the country.” He also stated that the A team had not got any instructions from the BCCI as of Friday
- 1st Test: Dec 17-21: Wanderers, Johannesburg
- 2nd Test: Dec 26-30: SuperSport Park, Centurion
- 3rd Test: Jan 3-7: Newlands, Cape Town
- 1st ODI: Jan 11: Boland Park, Paarl
- 2nd ODI: Jan 14: Newlands, Cape Town
- 3rd ODI: Jan 16: Newlands, Cape Town
- 1st T20I: Jan 19: Newlands, Cape Town
- 2nd T20I: Jan 21: Newlands, Cape Town
- 3rd T20I: Jan 23: Boland Park, Paarl
- 4th T20I: Jan 26: Boland Park, Paarl