JOHANNESBURG – In another rebuttal to Cricket Australia’s decision to cancel its national mens team’s tour of South Africa, Cricket SA revealed Thursday that close to 800 Covid-19 tests were conducted in the bio-secure environment created for the T20 Challenge, with all of those returning negative results.
The T20 competition, which was hastily rearranged to take place in Durban over the course of 10 days, following Australia’s move not to tour here for a three-match Test series. Cricket Australia’s decision is now the subject of an inquiry by the International Cricket Council, following a complaint lodged by CSA.
The bio-secure environment that would have been used for the Australia series was set to be far stricter than the one utilised for the domestic T20 tournament, but despite CSA acquiescing to numerous requests from its Australia counterparts, and lengthy negotiations between the two organisations, Cricket Australia cancelled the tour at the 11th hour.
“This is a massive accomplishment for Cricket South Africa and all those that were involved in putting the tournament together,” remarked CSA’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra.
“It is really encouraging and testament to the seriousness which all stakeholders involved treated the BSE environment that there were no positive tests returned.”
In a statement released by CSA on Thursday, Manjra outlined the numerous challenges involved in creating the ‘bio bubble’ in Durban that included managing six teams, officials and CSA staff totalling 132 people.
The Proteas’s Test and T20 teams, which had toured Pakistan, also came into the ‘bubble’ at different times, adding to the challenges faced in ensuring the environment remained secure.
“The T20 team entered the BSE directly from the airport on their arrival from Pakistan due to a significantly delayed flight. This also meant complex arrangements for Covid-19 testing. All of this was accommodated in a tower hotel in Umhlanga rather than the more spacious locations previous utilised,” Manjra explained.
Players, staff and match officials were separated into seven different bio-secure levels with no interaction between the teams, and separate dining facilities and pathways to playing and training venues.
The domestic season will resume this weekend with the four-day competition, but that tournament won’t take place in a ‘bio bubble’ with teams instead travelling around the country.
The competition had to be halted late last year when players in two different matches tested positive for Covid.
South Africa is set to host the Pakistan men’s team for two limited overs series’s next month, in a bio-secure environment in Gauteng.