New Delhi [India], December 14 (ANI): Cricket South Africa (CSA) chairperson Lawson Naidoo has said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) decision to tour South Africa shows how good the friendship is between both countries. He also said that the series will be closely contested and everything will be taken care of and the Omicron COVID-19 variant would not be of any hindrance.
In an interaction with ANI, Naidoo opened up about his expectations from India’s tour of South Africa, how challenging the series has become on the backdrop of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, whether crowds can be expected and how CSA is looking to celebrate the 30th anniversary of cricketing ties between India and South Africa.
“As you said, this series will mark the 30th anniversary of cricketing relations between India and South Africa. When South Africa was readmitted to the ICC in 1991 the first tour that we went on was to India in 1991 and India then toured the following year for four Tests and seven ODIs in 1992-93. We are excited about the series, the T2OIs will be played later but we are confident that the upcoming series will be closely contested,” Naidoo told ANI.
“We as CSA are fully equipped to ensure that the series goes ahead and we will ensure the protection of players from both India and South Africa. The series will be contested in a bio-secure environment. India will be travelling to South Africa via a charter flight. The hotel staff of the Indian team will be regularly tested for the virus, the hotel staff will be staying in the hotel only for the duration of the Indian team’s stay in South Africa. Once the Test series concludes, both India and South Africa squads will travel to Paarl through a chartered flight,” he added.
Last week, CSA had announced the updated schedule of India’s men’s tour of South Africa, beginning December 26. India and South Africa will lock horns in three Tests and three ODIs, while the four-match T20I series will be rescheduled for a more opportune time in the new year.
Talking about the discussions with BCCI regarding the tour, Naidoo said: “We were in constant touch with the BCCI. We would like to thank them for going on with the tour. We were also in touch with our own epidemiologist about the spread of COVID-19 and further measures that we need to take to ensure that the series goes ahead. We relayed the entire information to the BCCI and they were satisfied that the series could go ahead. Tests and ODIs will be played first, and T20Is will be played at a later stage.”
“Globally, we have grown accustomed to this. Teams have been playing cricket in bio-bubbles for more than a year now. Earlier this year, India was in the UK when there were elevated levels of transmission of the virus and the tour went ahead. Right now, Ashes is going on in Australia, we have seen how certain teams have different standards when it comes to touring countries, but we appreciate how BCCI did not fall into that trap and we really appreciate India touring South Africa and it shows how good the friendship is between both countries,” he added.
The first Test between India and South Africa will take place from December 26-30 at the SuperSport Park, Centurion; Second Test will take place from January 3-7, 2022, at the Wanderers, Johannesburg. The third Test will take place from January 11-15, 2022, at the Newlands, Cape Town.
The first ODI will take place on January 19, 2022, at Boland Park, Paarl; Second ODI will take place on January 21, 2022, at the same venue while the third ODI will take place on January 23, 2022, at Cape Town.
When asked whether there will be a crowd allowed for the India-South Africa series, Naidoo said: “The regulations at the moment state that only 2,000 spectators can be allowed inside the stadiums. We will be guided by whatever decision the government takes keeping public safety in mind. We will make every effort to ensure that the series is enjoyed by everyone, even if spectators are not allowed, there will be dynamic interaction with people who might watch the series on television. We will ensure that everyone enjoys this series.” (ANI)