Level 3 relaxation 'massive' for cricket says Cricket SA
JOHANNESBURG - Cricket South Africa said Thursday’s announcement by the government that all non-contact sport could resume behind closed doors was “massive”, for the sport.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said non-contact sports would be allowed under level 3 lockdown regulations, paving the way for cricketers, golfers, tennis players and track and field athletes to resume training, while observing social distancing measures.
“The moment we can return to train it helps us,” said Cricket SA’s interim chief executive Jacques Faul.
Dlamini Zuma outlined new regulations that allow for “a professional non-contact sports match, which may only include players match officials, journalists and medical and television crew”, will be allowed with Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa due to provide directions on how that will occur. Mthethwa is due to brief the media on Friday.
Cricket SA has been in contact with Mthethwa through the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s "War Room", where it has informed the minister that as a non-contact sport it should be allowed to operate at level 3.
Faul couldn’t say when the Proteas men's players, who are due to face the West Indies in July would be able to get together to train in one group. “We just thankful that now, they can get to a stadium and train. That is important, even if it's in small groups. We are thankful for this first step,” Faul said.
Cricket SA said last week it would be able to host matches in what its chief medical officer Dr. Shuaib Manjra described as a "bio bubble". That is essentially a large environment, containing a hotel within walking distance of a ground where matches will be played and the players can train.
“It would be a sanitised cricket biosphere, with strict entry standards, testing would be conducted before anyone enters in the bubble and there would be limited movement in and out of it,” Manjra said recently. “It requires regular testing and we will create a cordoned sanitaire, where people wouldn’t be allowed to leave or come in unless strict criteria are met.”
While inside the "bubble", everyone would still maintain the regular social distancing practices.
Majra said Potcheftroom’s Senwes Park, would be an ideal venue for a cricket "bio-bubble", given the location of the North West University Sports Village, which has 80 hotel-style rooms and is within three minutes walk of the ground, the nets and various other fields – football and athletics – where players can train.
Cricket South Africa has said the nationally contracted players would need six weeks to prepare before they are ready to play again.
The organisation has held talks with the Board of Control for Cricket in India about hosting the Indian team for three T20 Internationals in August, a series that could happen in a "bio bubble", if India’s players are allowed to travel and then observe 14-day quarantine periods both before and after they tour.
It is that 28-day period which could be a problem. However, while the BCCI are committed to touring, those matches may take place at a date later than originally scheduled.
Faul also said at this stage it was too early to speculate about the West Indies tour – which would comprise two Tests and five T20 Internationals – although all options remain open including playing the series in this country or even in England where the West indies are due to play next month.