JOHANNESBURG – The hasty postponement of the Indian Premier League on Tuesday, once again showed that no ‘bio secure environment,’ was completely locked, highlighting the impossible task Cricket South Africa faced last season when trying to give assurances to England and Australia.
Cricket SA suffered major financial losses after the teams from those two countries didn’t fulfill their scheduled matches against the Proteas. In England’s case, their national men’s side left before a three match One-Day International series against South Africa having completed a three match T20 series, while Australia, didn’t even send their men’s side for a three match Test series, withdrawing at eleventh hour citing concerns over CSA’s ‘bio bubble’ and the prevalence of a new Covid strain discovered late last year by South African scientists.
“You go back to England and the challenges we had there; there’s an unpredictable nature about Covid. Sometimes you can do whatever you want, but as we told everyone it is never full proof," Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith said on Thursday.
Both withdrawals infuriated CSA, with Smith reiterating his disappointment while throwing shade at players from those two countries who were happy to accept the risk of playing in India after refusing to play in SA. “You see some of these players sitting at the IPL, not making any noise, having experienced things here, and you see things differently. There’s a version of double standards,” Smith remarked.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India postponed the IPL on Tuesday, amidst a catastrophic spike in coronavirus infections in that country, with over 400,000 new cases diagnosed on Thursday.
The IPL had taken place in a ‘bio bubble,’ involving all eight teams across five cities. Besides players and coaches, the bio bubble also included families and friends of squad members and management with arrangements including, special entrances and thoroughfare at airports, the availability of ambulances at stadiums for the teams and special entrances at private hospitals in the event of injury. Those latter two elements caused plenty of criticism in India where medical supplies are extremely limited.
“We have also shown how successful we’ve been in our own BSEs,” said Smith.
“Pakistan were in five BSEs and the feedback we got (from them) about what we were able to produce, in comparison, they said it was probably the best.”
“These things are unpredictable but we have got a good grip of how we handle it, how we roll it out, do it, our testing protocols, the type of hotels we’ve used, our mindset at the stadiums have been excellent, especially the Wanderers and Supersport Park (which hosted the series’s involving Sri Lanka and Pakistan).”
We have expressed our disappointment and we want to make those things right going forward.”
The One-Day matches against England will be rescheduled at a later date, as will the three Tests against Australia, with Smith confirming Thursday that talks were on-going with Cricket Australia.
“We’ve had a fair few intense discussions (with CA). We’ve made it very clear that we want to replace (the series) within the current cycle, so then it becomes a scheduling issue so there’s been ‘back and forth’ on that, but I’m hoping that we are relatively close to closing that down in the cycle,’ Smith said on Thursday.
The current four year cycle ends in 2023, and with three international tournaments in that time, and the IPL to consider, squeezing that series in will be difficult.