Warriors withdraw 6 players due to Covid-19 ahead of season opener against Knights
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CAPE TOWN – Director of Cricket Graeme Smith has stated that Cricket SA are doing everything manageable to maintain the players’ safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, but is acutely aware that challenges will arise as the season progresses.
The new domestic season is set to start on Monday after the lockdown precipitated an early end to last season back in March. But before a ball has been bowled in anger, the Warriors have already been forced to withdraw six players from their opening fixture against the Knights in Bloemfontein due to Covid-19.
Seam bowler Aya Gqamane and batsman Lesibe Ngoepe both tested positive, while captain Yaseen Vallie, bowler Glenton Stuurman, Proteas wicket-keeper/batsman Sinethemba Qeshile and fast bowler Sinethemba Langa, who lives with Gqamane, were all in direct contact and now need to self-isolate.
“We take a lot of guidance from our medical team. There is testing taking place regularly. It is impossible to create secure facilities across the board. There are still domestic players testing positive and we are going to have to deal with it. There is also a responsibility on the franchises and the franchise CEO’s,” Smith told IOL Sport.
“We’ve have a number of discussions with them and their protocols. Financially, CSA have invested money monthly to assist with the medical roll out in terms of the sanitising process. It is not a cheap exercise. I am sure we will be caught in difficult situations, but it is about how we manage it.”
However, the Warriors’ problems have been further exacerbated due to the fact all six players affected are black. CSA’s transformation rules state that each franchise is mandated to field at least six black players in every starting XI, with a minimum of three Black Africans.
Warriors coach Robin Peterson believes that these are “exceptional circumstances” and that CSA needs to be “a little bit more flexible and adaptable”. Independent Media understands that the Warriors have submitted an application to CSA notifying the transformation committee of their Covid-19 predicament.
“These are exceptional circumstances which we are living in, let alone in a cricketing environment. We need to be a little bit more flexible and adaptable,” Peterson told IOL Sport.
“We respect the diversity of our country. We are a very tight unit. We are committed to transformation. We would have played seven black players in our original XI and have regularly fielded the most Black Africans in our line-ups in the past.
“We have created a culture of trust, honesty and openness in our dressingroom and it is one we want to continue with going forward.”