England players played golf in ’bio-secure environment’

England all-rounder Ben Stokes and the rest of the teammates are heading gome. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

England all-rounder Ben Stokes and the rest of the teammates are heading gome. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 8, 2020


CAPE TOWN - Cricket South Africa team doctor Shuaib Manjra believes the embattled organisation has “learnt invaluable lessons” from the curtailed England white-ball tour.

The two boards – CSA and the England and Wales Cricket Board – delivered a joint statement yesterday calling off the one-day international leg of the tour citing “the mental and physical health, and welfare of players from both teams” due to a string of positive Covid-19 cases.

There have been five positive test results since both teams moved into the bio-secure environment of the Vineyard Hotel. These include one SA player, two members of the England touring party and two members of hotel staff. This led to firstly the postponement of the first ODI at Newlands on Friday before its cancellation two days later in Paarl.

CSA were facing an arduous task from the outset to re-create the multi-million pound “bio-bubble” which saw England house four teams across their summer without any positive tests as best as they could due to the financial constraints the home union faces.

Equally, CSA were cognisant of the fact that a host of England’s players had endured months in bio-bubble environments back at home and during the IPL in the United Arab Emirates leading up to the series in SA.

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It for these reasons that a bio-secure – and not bio-bubble – environment was implemented, which allowed the English players to even fit in a few rounds of golf at Boschenmeer in Paarl between matches.

“I think the notion of a zero positive is unrealistic and it was about how you managed it,” Manjra said.

“We haven’t identified where the positives have come from. There can be an argument that there was a breach. But we tried our best to balance the mental wellness of the players with strict Covid-19 protocols. I think there are number of invaluable lessons we have learnt from this tour.”

The postponement of the England ODI series – both boards will now work together to determine when the series can take place in future – has placed the spotlight firmly on CSA’s ability to safeguard the players’ health for the remainder of the international summer with SA still due to host Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan.

Sri Lanka are supposed to arrive shortly for a two-match Test series set to be played on the Highveld over the festive season. Both teams are once again planned to stay together at the Irene Country Club in Centurion, which boasts an 18-hole golf course, six tennis courts, a bowling green, squash courts and a driving range.

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However, after the postponement of the England series, CSA could now impose stricter regulations.

“The Sri Lanka series was set to be very different because the hotel is very different,” Manjra said.

“Again we were looking to try and balance the mental wellness with strict Covid-19 protocols. But now maybe need a different approach.”

IOL Sport understands that both boards were locked in tense meetings for the past two days in an attempt to salvage the England tour, with top-level administrators from both countries realising the possible precedent that has now been set through the postponement of the tour.

It has further believed that England’s Professional Cricketers' Association – the equivalent of the SA Cricketers’ Association – chief Rob Lynch along with England captain Eoin Morgan were critical role-players in the ultimate decision to postpone the tour.

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