England’s white-ball tour of South Africa next month has finally been given the government go-ahead. The fixtures will be played behind closed doors in Cape Town and Paarl, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Wednesday.
The T20I series starts on November 27 at Newlands, Cape Town. The second match of the series will be played at Boland Park, Paarl on Sunday 29, while Newlands will host the third match on December 1.
The three-match ODI series, which are part of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, starts at Newlands on December 4. The second match will be played at Boland Park on December 6, and the final game of the tour will take place on December 9 at Newlands.
It will be the first action for South Africa since they returned home from India in March in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Following that, their series in Sri Lanka and West Indies were postponed while they were also unable to host India for three T20Is.
England, on the other hand, returned to action in July with the Test series against West Indies. It was followed by Test and T20I series against Pakistan as well as a ODI series against Ireland. Australia then toured England in September for three ODIs and as many T20Is.
“This is a wonderful boost for cricket,” Kugandrie Govender, Cricket South Africa Acting Chief Executive, said.
“And, although all the matches will have to be played behind closed doors, I am sure that our Proteas fans will rally behind South Africa’s favourite team as they always do, but just on alternative digital and social media platforms,” he added.
CSA managed to get the green light from ECB after convincing the South Africa government to waiver the normal requirements for visitors from counties deemed ‘high risk’ in terms of Covid-19 infection, as is currently the case for the UK. The ECB are expected to charter a flight to Cape Town which will arrive on November 17, ahead of the first international match 10 days later.
The squad will stay at the Vineyard Hotel and train, initially at least, at the Western Province Cricket Club ground where they will play inter-squad warm-up games. Had the government refused to give relaxation to the tourists, the England players would have been obliged to quarantine in their hotel rooms for at least a week at the start of the tour.
In such a scenario, the ECB would have declined to tour. The squad will still be obliged to quarantine, but they will be allowed to train and use certain parts of the hotel during that period.
“We are looking forward to touring South Africa,” said Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive. “I would like to personally thank Cricket South Africa for their efforts in ensuring this tour goes ahead and their diligent work to create an environment that is safe for our players and staff. They are working tirelessly to pull together a bio-secure plan in Cape Town and Paarl.
“We owe it to the sport that we do everything we can to keep international competition progressing during this pandemic,” he added.
South Africa vs England 2020 fixtures:
November 27: First T20I, Newlands, Cape Town
November 29: Second T20I, Boland Park, Paarl
December 1: Third T20I, Newlands, Cape Town
December 4: First ODI, Newlands, Cape Town
December 6: Second ODI, Boland Park, Cape Town
December 9: Third ODI, Newlands, Cape Town