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Thursday, January 27, 2022

IND vs SA: Boxing Day start to Test series, T20s postponed

Allocation of the new venues will be done by Monday; 3 ODIs retained.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata |
Updated: December 5, 2021 7:48:14 am
The AGM, however, didn’t deliberate on India’s T20 World Cup failure, as according to a member who attended the meeting, the group league phase exit was seen as “one bad tournament”. (File)

The 90th Annual General Meeting of the BCCI in Kolkata on Saturday unanimously agreed to truncate and defer India’s upcoming tour of South Africa. As this paper already reported, the Indian team’s departure to the country would be delayed by about a week.

As per the new schedule, three Tests and as many ODIs would be played, while the T20Is have been postponed for now. The allocation of the new venues will be done by Monday, with the first Test commencing on the Boxing Day. The AGM, however, didn’t deliberate on India’s T20 World Cup failure, as according to a member who attended the meeting, the group league phase exit was seen as “one bad tournament”.

“India’s tour of South Africa, 2021-22, will proceed with the revised dates and itinerary. The team will participate in a three-match Test series followed by a three-match ODI series starting December 26th, 2021,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah stated via a press release after the AGM.

This came in the wake of a Cricket South Africa (CSA) press advisory that said: “… the tour is now confirmed and the arrival timings of the India team will be moved out by a week, to allow for effective logistical planning.”

The BCCI had chosen to wait and watch after the detection of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in a few countries including South Africa. It didn’t call off India ‘A’ team’s ongoing tour to the country, while constantly keeping in touch with CSA over the development.

“CSA is also pleased to confirm that the allocation of match venues will still be in respect of the Bubble Safe Environment (BSEs) and therefore the decision on the allocations will take into account the need for safer playing environments. CSA has instituted these world class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment. CSA’s main focus is to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside of its cordon. CSA will confirm the venues in the next 48 hours,” said the South African board’s press release.

The original tour itinerary had the first Test at Johannesburg from December 17 followed by the second Test at Centurion from December 26 and the third Test at Cape Town from January 3. Paarl and Cape Town were to host the three ODIs on January 11, 14 and 16 respectively. The tour also had four T20Is. CSA will come up with a mutually agreed revised schedule.

The surge of the Omicron variant saw international teams and players’ scramble to get out of South Africa. But “a very cordial relationship”, as mentioned by CSA, between the two cricket boards prevented the cancellation of India’s tour. The Covid figures put out by the South African government’s health department on December 3 mentioned 16,055 new cases without revealing the number of infections from the Omicron variant. The chief medical officer of CSA, Dr Shuaib Manjra, told this paper a couple of days ago that the virus spread was “growing exponentially” in unvaccinated people in Gauteng province, where India were scheduled to play their first two Tests. At the same time, he ensured that bio-bubbles would ensure safety. The Indian squad members will have to undergo a five-day quarantine upon reaching South Africa.

The other decisions at the AGM saw an increase in the age limit of match officials and support staff from 60 to 65 years. Former India spinner Pragyan Ojha was inducted as the Indian Cricketers Association’s representative in the IPL Governing Council.

North-East push

It is learnt that the AGM also took the decision to give the North-East state associations Rs 10 crore each for infrastructure development and another Rs 12.5 crore each for operational expenses. All north-eastern state bodies will have indoor facilities within a year. The BCCI is also mulling on resuming the women’s U-23 domestic tournament, postponed due to Covid, this year.

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