AUSTRALIA’S three-match Test series against South Africa has been postponed due to rising Covid-19 cases in the host country.
The series was due to start on March 3, but Cricket Australia confirmed that it would not go ahead, stating it posed an “unacceptable risk to players, support staff and the community” given the new strain of the virus in South Africa.
The cancellation of the tour is a huge blow for Australia’s hopes of reaching the ICC World Test Championship final in June, as the Aussies needed at least a 2-0 victory over South Africa to qualify.
However, it does mean that New Zealand have progressed to the final at Lord’s, which will be played following their three-match tour of England in June.
In a statement, Cricket Australia’s interim chief executive, 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 travelling 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.
“As difficult and disappointing a decision as this is, especially for Justin [Langer], Tim [Paine] and the team, we have a duty of care to our people and their health and safety can’t be compromised.”
Hockley also confirmed that they were hoping to reschedule the series for later in the year, continuing: “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.” — cricketer