India set for shortened tour of SA amid uncertainty over Covid-19 Omicron variant
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Johannesburg - India will head to South Africa for three Tests and three One-Day Internationals, which may start a week later than originally scheduled.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India started its Annual General Meeting on Saturday where the fate of the tour was discussed. The BCCI Secretary Jay Shah told news agency, Asia News International, that the tour would go ahead, but that the four T20 Internationals, scheduled for January, would take place at a later stage.
"BCCI has confirmed (to) CSA that the Indian team will travel for three Tests and three ODIs. The remaining four T20Is will be played at a later date," Shah told ANI.
There has been a lot of concern about the fate of the tour following the emergence of the new Covid-19 Omicron variant, that was made public last week.
The Indian men’s team was due to arrive in South Africa next Friday, but it looks likely that they arrival will be pushed back by a week, with the BCCI needing to consult the Indian government before the team is allowed to travel.
The tour is absolutely vital for Cricket SA’s finances, which have taken significant hits throughout the pandemic. Cricket SA announced losses of R221-million at its AGM in October.
Most of those losses stemmed from the England limited overs tour last year being cut short, and were worsened when Australia indefinitely postponed its Test series here in March.
Cricket SA and the South African government have sought to provide assurances to India that it would be safe to tour South Africa. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued a statement this week, thanking the Indian government for not banning travel to South Africa and also outlining that the tour would take place in a bio-secure environment (BSE).
Cricket SA, through Proteas limited overs captain, Temba Bavuma and Test skipper, Dean Elgar, said BSE protocols, while challenging, were secure, and a necessity if international cricket was to be played.
Crucially for CSA, the India A side, chose to stay in South Africa to play its three match series against a South Africa A team in Bloemfontein, despite the Netherlands, withdrawing from its One-Day series against the Proteas after the first match last Friday.