COVID19 Cancels England Match in South Africa; Tour Under Threat


Paarl, South Africa, Dec 6 (AFP/APP): Two members of England’s touring party in South Africa have returned unconfirmed positives for Covid-19, forcing Sunday’s ODI to be cancelled and placing the rest of the tour in jeopardy.

The match in Paarl was to have opened the series after Friday’s scheduled first match in Cape Town was scrapped just before play after a South African player tested positive.

Cricket South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a joint statement that two members of England’s touring party had now contracted the virus, although further tests were required. The statement did not specify whether the individuals affected were players or support staff.

“Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have agreed to cancel today’s Betway One-Day International series opening match, which was due to take place in Paarl,” the governing bodies said.

A decision on the remaining two matches in the series will be taken after the test results are ratified independently by medical experts, the statement added.

Ashley Giles, the managing director of England Men’s Cricket, said: “We regret that we are unable to play in today’s ODI, but the welfare of the players and support staff is our primary concern and whilst we await the results of further tests the medical advice from both teams was that this game should not take place. “We remain in constant dialogue with Cricket South Africa and will continue to work closely with them to determine how best to move forward.”

CSA said the England players and management underwent an additional round of tests on Saturday evening after two members of staff at their hotel tested positive for the virus. Former England captain Mike Atherton, now a commentator and journalist, said he feared the entire series could be under threat. Atherton said the new positive cases had “ramped up” the concern that the England camp already felt after the opening match was postponed.

“Certainly this match is off and I would be pessimistic about the other games,” said Atherton.

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