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Safety of players paramount: BCCI clears stance ahead of India’s scheduled South Africa tour amid outbreak of new COVID variant

The senior team are currently in the middle of a two-match Test series at home against New Zealand and are scheduled to depart for South Africa on December 8.

Saurabh Ganguly Editor

Updated - 7 December 2021 2:48 pm

India tour of South Africa
Highlights
  • Earlier, the Indian government had called for strict screening and testing of passengers travelling from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.
  • ICC recently cancelled the Women's World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe due to the concern.

Although the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does not look to be in a hurry to take a call on India’s forthcoming tour of South Africa amid the outbreak of a new Coronavirus variant, it made clear that the “safety of the players will be paramount.” Amid the heavily mutated variant of the dreaded infection spreading rapidly in Africa nations, the India A team is already in the rainbow nation for three unofficial Test matches, one of which has already been completed and the remaining two are likely to go ahead as planned.

On the other hand, the senior team are currently in the middle of a two-match Test series at home against New Zealand and are scheduled to depart for South Africa on December 8. While the fate of the series could go either way from here and both the cricketing boards have talked about closely monitoring the situation, the cancellation of the Women’s World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe is not an encouraging sign.

“We are in constant touch with Cricket South Africa, while continuously monitoring the situation over there. Health and safety of the cricketers are paramount and we will act accordingly,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told The Sunday Express.

“Health Ministry’s directive is supreme. If we get any advisory in this regard, we will certainly follow that,” he added.

We need to factor in aspects like hard quarantine amid new infections: BCCI source

Earlier, the Indian government had called for strict screening and testing of passengers travelling from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. It is in these nations that the infections of the new variant have been majorly reported.

A BCCI source also pointed out that with the cases of the new variant rising, the provision for hard quarantine and other stringent measures could be introduced.

“Look, till we get a detailed picture of the ground situation from Cricket South Africa (CSA), we will not be able to tell our next step. As per the current plan, the Indian team is supposed to leave either on December 8 or 9 just after the New Zealand series gets over in Mumbai,” a BCCI source was quoted as saying by TOI.

“Initially, there was no provision for hard quarantine but obviously the players will remain in a bio-bubble. Now with cases rising in South Africa and the European Union also cancelling flights temporarily, we need to factor in these aspects.”

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