Australia’s dalliance with England fandom this week could be all for nothing as a protest by Cricket South Africa threatens to dash the Aussies’ World Test Championship hopes.
England begins its fourth and final Test showdown with India on Thursday, with a win tying the series 2-2 and sending Australia through to the WTC final against New Zealand.
A draw, or India win, will see the hosts clinch the series and go to Lord’s instead.
But an extra hurdle has now emerged for Australia, with reports that the International Cricket Council will bing forward a complaint by CSA over February and March’s postponed tour.
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Australia was scheduled to play three Tests in South Africa — its final WTC assignment — but pulled out of the series due to an “unacceptable” health risk, as determined by a team of medical professionals.
CSA felt blindsided by the call, and lodged an official complaint with the ICC, claiming nations shouldn’t have the power to “unilaterally” pull out of tours — a move which places a far heavier financial burden on the hosts than the visitors.
CA, however, says CSA blew deadlines to provide assurances about its biosecurity measures, while it also offered to host the tour in Australia — a request South Africa flatly rejected.
CSA wants financial compensation, but is also seeking WTC points despite the series not taking place, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Should the points be awarded, Australia’s hopes of playing the inaugural WTC final would be over.
The publication reports that Australia has until the end of this week to inform the ICC’s dispute resolution committee whether the issue can be resolved through negotiations.
An independent panel will resolve the dispute if not.
Should all 120 WTC points be awarded to South Africa, then the result of England and India’s series will count for nothing for Australia.
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There is still the slim possibility that the entire tour could be rescheduled within the current Future Tours Program schedule.
South Africa has hosted winter Tests before, but not since 2016.
There are hopes that CSA and CA can come to agreement on their own terms in the coming weeks, although the relationship is on rocky ground since Australia decided not to tour.
CSA has claimed that it did everything within its power to make Australia comfortable in touring, including providing exclusive use of a luxury resort and sending employees into quarantine ahead of its arrival.
CA says the decision not to tour was purely on medical grounds as South Africa battled with a highly contagious, mutant strain of coronavirus.
SMH reports that boards can be fined at least $A2.55 million for failing to honour FTP commitments, although coronavirus-related issues are considered a reasonable excuse.