Feb 2, 2021, 21:30 IST

Australia pulls out of South Africa tour due to Covid-19

Australia pulls out of South Africa tour due to Covid-19

On Tuesday, Cricket Australia made an announcement stating that Australia has pulled out of their Test cricket tour to South Africa due to “unacceptable” risk to the players due to present Covid-19 situation in the country.

Australia pulls out of South Africa tour due to Covid-19

Australian team was to fly to South Africa for the three-match Test series scheduled for February-March but considering the pandemic and the safety of the players the Australian board decided otherwise. The coronavirus situation in the South Africa accelerated by the new variant of the virus which is said to be more contagious than the earlier strains.

With almost 1.5 million detected infections and more than 44,000 fatalities, it has the highest number of cases and deaths on the continent.

Cricket Australia interim chief Nick Hockley said the medical advice was not to travel.

“It has become clear that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community,” he said.

“This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time.

“However, we have been consistent since the start of the pandemic that the health and safety of our people is always our number one priority and unfortunately despite best efforts to agree a biosecurity plan, the risks are simply too great at this time.”

The decision almost ends Australia’s hopes of playing the World Test Championship final, stated goal of captain Tim Paine.

Australia is presently in the third place with 332 points behind India and New Zealand.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said the country had “passed the peak” of its second coronavirus infection wave, but the virus remains a major problem.

Authorities are planning to vaccinate at least 67 percent of the population by year’s end.

There are currently no contingencies in place for the tour, although Hockley suggested the Tests could be played at a later date.

“We look forward to playing the series against CSA at a date to be confirmed in due course,” he said.

This is the second time that a major tour of South Africa has been cancelled in the recent months. Earlier, England pulled out of their trip midway through an ODI series in December over a Covid-19 outbreak among its touring party.

Australian Cricketers’ Association interim chief Joe Connellan backed Hockley’s decision.

“The Australian players were ready for the contest with South Africa, especially to support South African cricket at this time with the added challenge of making the final of the ICC Test Championship,” he said.

“But this is the right call given the Covid data coming out of South Africa.”