On Thursday (10th December), Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) interim board chairman Zak Yacoob opened up his disappointment on England’s early calling off the South Africa tour due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in both camps.
England came to South Africa for the limited-overs series as they had to play three-match T20I series and three-match ODI series (part of the inaugural ICC Cricket World Cup Super League). The T20I series was completed as the visitors won the T20I series by completing whitewash (won by 3-0).
Then the first ODI was originally scheduled to be played on 4th December at Cape Town. But that match was postponed due to a COVID-19 positive result among the South African player. Later that match and the entire ODI series was rescheduled as Paarl would host the opening match of the series on 6th December. According to that reschedule, Cape Town would host the last two ODIs on 7th and 9th December respectively.
But the Paarl ODI was also abandoned due to the two COVID-19 positive results among the hotel staff. Later, two members of the English camp were also reported “unconfirmed positive tests” for the COVID-19. Soon, both cricket boards agreed to call off the ODI series, and then England left South Africa.
Zak Yacoob was disappointed on England’s leaving the country without playing the ODI series as he felt that it gave a wrong message to the world about South Africa. However, he doesn’t wish to blame the English team.
In a virtual press conference, Yacoob said, “What I want to negate is the idea that our provision of services was sub-standard, and that there is any justification for the English saying that they did not want to participate and going home. The facts are that ultimately (England) were negative.”
“We have gone into our protocols, and we think that (they) have been very good. There may have been an issue of psychological troubles. People may have felt nervous and complicated about the false positives, and so on. We do not wish to blame the English, but we wish to say absolutely and completely that any notion that they went away was our fault is completely wrong.”
In my view, we have been managing the virus much better than England has been: CSA interim board chairman
After the England tour of South Africa, the African country also has the plan to host Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan in this season. But due to the COVID-19 outbreak during the ODI series against England, all the other international cricket matches planning in South Africa in this season were under deep trouble. However, after the discussions, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has agreed to send their players to South Africa for the two-match Test series.
Yacoob added, “There is an awkward narrative coming out that third world countries can’t manage these things properly. In my view, we have been managing the virus much better than England has been.”
Talking about the mistake from their side, Yacoob pointed out to allowing the visitors a little more laxity.
He claimed, “The only criticism (of the protocols) I can make is that we were too lax with the English and their desire to do things that, in our strict view, they shouldn’t be doing. Unfortunately, we were stronger in preventing our players from doing things and we allowed the visitors a little more laxity.
“We favoured the visitors just a little, not enough to compromise the thing. The problem with that was that it did give rise to some feelings of unfairness as far as our players were concerned. The board regretted that a great deal.”
The CSA interim board chairman has also confirmed that they don’t want an apology from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Yacoob said, “I don’t think we want an apology from anyone, but if they say lies about us we will defend ourselves. I’m prepared to leave it on the basis that we do understand, although it is sometimes difficult for us to understand, the sensitivities of the matter. We’ve got this virus for the first time and we do understand how people can get put off. Therefore we have to give people the benefit of the doubt.”
The two-match Test series between South Africa and Sri Lanka has been scheduled between 26th December 2020 and 7th January 2021.