Johannesburg (AFP) – Cricket South Africa on Saturday confirmed that India will play three friendly matches on its tour, which begins later this month, but “under the strictest Covid-19 guidelines”.
The CSA added that the tour will be postponed for a week to allow for “effective logistical planning” following an outbreak of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the host country.
Omicron was first discovered in South Africa and has created panic, uncertainty and new travel restrictions around the world in the past few days, raising questions about the prospects for the tour.
India will also play three one-day internationals.
The tour will be shortened, with four Twenty20 Internationals being postponed until later in the year.
The first test is scheduled to begin in Johannesburg on December 17, but the series is expected to begin in Centurion on December 26, with further tests expected in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The CSA statement states that a revised schedule will be announced “in the next 48 hours”.
The tour “continues with the revised dates and itineraries,” said Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in a statement.
India’s test skipper Virat Kohli was searching for clarity on the series this week following conflicting media reports on Omicron.
Some players would need to be quarantined before the tour, he said. “You want to sort things out as quickly as possible,” added Kohli.
CSA said both teams would be limited to bio-safe environments.
“This tour takes place under the strictest Covid-19 guidelines.
“The Bubble Safe Environment (BSE) will continue to be considered in the allocation of venues and therefore the decision on allocations will take into account the need for safer gaming environments.
“CSA has implemented these world-class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials in this environment are protected.
“CSA’s primary focus is on protecting the cricket biosphere by managing strict standards of access and limited movement outside its cordon.”
The discovery of the Omicron variant resulted in numerous countries banning travel to and from South Africa – but the Indian team will travel on a charter flight and fly straight to a bio-safe environment.
South Africa has praised India for its “solidarity” not to cancel the tour.
© 2021 AFP