Australian Women’s tour of South Africa, scheduled to consist of three ODIs and as many T20Is, and due to start on March 22 has been postponed as part of the preventative measures against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)*. This is the first major international series which will not take place as scheduled because of the virus. A CSA release on Friday said Cricket Australia communicated its decision to postpone the tour “in consideration of the health, safety and the interest of players”.
“We confirm the postponement of the Australian Women’s tour to South Africa and we understand and respect the decision,” Dr Jacques Faul, interim chief executive at CSA said in a statement. “Cricket South Africa is also closely monitoring the tour of the Protea Men’s team in India and we are in constant consultation with medical and virology experts, stakeholders in government, the BCCI and the team. We will apply our minds to the input of experts and act in a way that reflects our duty of caring for our players.
“I would also like to stress that this decision was not taken lightly and is in the best interest of the players of both teams. CSA will do a full risk assessment on the influence of the virus on our operations, including the current domestic season and following this, we will work with our key cricket partners to find an appropriate window in the international cricket calendar, to stage these matches.”
Australia won the T20 World Cup last weekend at the MCG, where one fan among the 86,174 in attendance later tested positive for coronavirus. The country has confirmed 122 cases of the virus, as of Wednesday, significantly more than South Africa, where 17 cases have been reported.
Sporting events in Australia have been also been affected with the Grand Prix called off after a McLaren team member tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday evening. South Africa have yet to feel the same impact with events such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival, the continent’s biggest, set to go ahead later this month. The Australia Women’s tour was the first to be postponed in cricket.
Although the series is part of the ICC Women’s Championship, it’s postponement will not affect either side’s qualification for the 2021 50-over World Cup. Australia are currently on top of the points table and are certain of participating in the flagship event while South Africa secured their spot by beating New Zealand prior to the T20 World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals. South Africa lost to Australia in a rain-affected match and would have been keen to come up against the champions, but will have to settle for an extended period of rest instead.
Meanwhile, the South African men’s team’s tour to India continues after the first ODI in Dharamsala was washed out on Thursday. The remaining two matches will be played behind closed doors in Lucknow and Kolkata.
At home, the South African domestic season is continuing as usual. There are six more matches in the domestic one-day cup which will be played in the next nine days and two rounds of first-class fixtures scheduled for late March to early April. Crowd attendance, especially for the latter, is historically low (and sometimes non-existent) so the risk associated with having these fixtures take place is considered to be minimal.
*1145GMT: The story was updated after CSA issued a release