England’s One-Day International series against South Africa has been postponed amid concerns over the mental and physical health of the players, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have said in a joint statement.
The announcement comes after the players were subjected to a number of COVID-19 scares with potentially five cases inside the teams’ bio-secure environment in Cape Town, with one South Africa player and two hotel staff confirmed as positive.
Two members of the England tour party also have “unconfirmed positive results” that require further investigation, the ECB said on Sunday.
“The decision (to postpone the series) was taken jointly by the two boards to ensure the mental and physical health and welfare of players from both teams,” the statement added.
“The CSA and ECB will now work together to determine when the three-match series, which forms part of the ICC Cricket Men’s Super League, can take place in the future.”
The 50-over matches had been scheduled to get underway last Friday, with the final game in the series set for Wednesday.
The news will be a massive financial blow to embattled Cricket South Africa and also casts doubt on their ability to host the planned future tours, with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia all set to play in the country in the coming months.
“The concern over the mental health impact of recent events on all involved is not one that we as CSA or the ECB take lightly, and the decision to postpone the tour is the most responsible and reasonable course of action for us,” CSA Acting chief executive Kugandrie Govender said.
“I would like to thank the ECB for the continued positive relations, and we look forward to hosting the England men’s team in the near future.”
Her thoughts were echoed by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison.
“We were concerned about the potential impact that recent developments might have on the wellbeing of the touring party, and so after consultation with Cricket South Africa we have jointly made the decision to postpone the remaining matches in this Series, in the best interest of the players’ welfare,” Harrison said.
CricInfo reported on Monday that England had been accused by Western Province Cricket Association officials of having used nets not authorised within the bio-secure environment for practice at Newlands on Thursday.
But the ECB have denied any wrongdoing, saying they were given permission to use the nets and that a security cordon around them had been set up.
The teams did manage to play a three-match Twenty20 series prior to the ODI games, which England won 3-0.