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Host South Africa upset after Australia postpone cricket tour (Lead)

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Johannesburg, Feb 2 (IANS) Cricket South Africa (CSA) has expressed disappointment after Cricket Australia (CA) on Tuesday postponed their next month’s tour of that country despite the hosts making exclusive arrangements for the series.

“CSA wishes to record its immense disappointment at the news. The safety of players is always paramount and over the past few months, CSA held many detailed discussions with CA regarding Covid-19 protocols. CSA worked hard to meet the changing demands of our Australian counterparts,” said a CSA statement.

“CSA is particularly disappointed given that South Africa recently hosted Sri Lanka in a bio-secure environment (BSE) at Centurion, with no breaches of protocol. Currently, the Pakistan women’s team are touring the country in a secure BSE in Durban,” it said.

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Former captain Graeme Smith, CSA Director of Cricket, said that Australia’s decision is frustating.

“We are extremely disappointed by the decision of CA. CSA has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure that we meet every single expectation of CA,” he said.

“This was set to be the longest tour in a BSE comprising a three-match Test series that was scheduled to begin with Australia’s arrival later in the month. So to be informed about the CA decision at the eleventh hour is frustrating.”

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CSA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, added that there was not much more CSA could have done to appease CA and prepare more appropriately.

“The protocols we had proposed to CA were unprecedented. Firstly, we had agreed that our own Proteas team would enter the BSE 14 days prior to the arrival of the Australian team, thus altering their planning during the current tour of Pakistan,” he said.

“Among some of the other key arrangements made were that all four areas (two hotels and two venues) had a protocol to implement a strict BSE with no contact with anybody outside this area. We subsequently agreed to two separate BSEs and had granted Australia full and exclusive use of the Irene Country Lodge, which we shared with Sri Lanka, with a minimum staff present on site.”

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Dr Manjra said the Proteas were to move to a separate hotel altogether. “Furthermore, all hotel staff, match officials and even bus drivers were to enter the BSE 14 days prior to Australia’s arrival. In addition, CSA had also committed to importing an Australian tracking system at great cost to ensure proper tracking of close contacts in the event of a positive test,” he said.

“The touring team was also going to be granted VIP access through the airports, after government intervention to ensure this privilege. These are just some of the protocols that CSA was to put in place. We had really gone the extra mile to make sure that the tour would proceed.”

–IANS

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