With The ongoing limited-overs tour of South Africa by England standing cancelled after the first ODI stood abandoned and the second being postponed, the postmortem has begun for the same. With the T20 series conducted successfully and won by England, the expectation was for the ODI series to go smoothly too. The England Cricket Board (ECB) has blamed the facilities at the Newlands ground as claims of COVID-19 protocol breach emerge.
The first ODI scheduled to take place in Paarl on Friday stood postponed since an unnamed South African player tested positive. If that was not enough, Cricket South Africa (CSA) and England Cricket Board (ECB) declared that the second ODI would also be delayed till they await confirmation of the two unconfirmed COVID-19 positive cases from the England camp. Former England batsman Alastair Cook had already expressed doubts about whether the ODI series will take place.
The ECB claimed in a statement that after arriving on 3rd December in Cape Town, they were unhappy with the pitch as it was not consistent as per the MOU signed by the respective boards. The batsmen were unable to play the seam bowlers as the main pitches were unacceptable.
“On arrival at Newlands on 3 December, we advised the venue that the three nets provided on the main pitch were not of a standard for conducive practice, as per the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the respective boards. Batsmen were unable to face seam bowlers on the nets on the main pitch as the surfaces were rendered and unacceptable,” the statement said as reported by ESPN Cricinfo.
The statement further said that they requested CSA to use the practice nets and would create a security cordon, ensuring that the players will enter the premises safely as done previously. The same got confirmed by all the authorities from England’s camp and the players also felt satisfied having the opportunity to practice in the nets safely. The visitors assured that the safety of their players from their end was not compromised.
“We requested with CSA that we would like to use the practice nets and that we would create a security cordon to ensure the players and coaches could enter the facility safely, as done previously on 28 November. This was confirmed by England’s Security Team, the Team Operations Manager and the Team Doctor. We were satisfied with this outcome and we were able to practice in the net facility safely. The team also used the main outfield for fielding drills, a seam bowlers bowl through pitch and a number of nets were used for range-hitting against spin bowlers and coaches throws. As far as the England touring party are concerned, the safety and health of our players and coaches was not compromised,” it said further.
What did the email sent to Cricket South Africa (CSA)?
The WP informed CSA, ECB, and the Claremont Police, who are in charge of maintaining the teams’ bio-secure bubble that the English team has not abided by the arrangements Event Security and Safety Planning Committee (ESSPC) meetings. With the practice nets next to the construction site not allowed for practice, three cages of nets were set up on the square on the field. Hence, the English team has used the nets on 3rd December on their peril and that the WPCA and the ESSPC would not be responsible for the safety of England’s team.
“Please be advised that the England cricket team has not adhered to the arrangements as agreed by all in the ESSPC [Event Security and Safety Planning Committee] meetings. The practice nets next to the construction site is not allowed to be used on practice days. Three cages of nets was set up on the square on the field. This serves to inform you that the England Cricket Team has accessed and used the nets today (3 December 2020) at their own risk. WPCA and the ESSPC will not be held liable or responsible for the safety and health of the England Cricket Team,” the email read.