Cricket South Africa (CSA) chairperson Lawson Naidoo on Tuesday (December 14) expressed his gratitude towards the BCCI for going ahead with the South Africa tour despite the new strain of COVID-19 causing panic in the Rainbow Nation.
Team India are due to play three Tests and as many ODIs on the tour of South Africa. While the Test series will be held from December 26 to January 15, the 50-over series will be played from January 19 to January 23.
The four T20Is, which were also part of the tour fixtures, will be held at a later date owing to the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus that has been identified in South Africa.
Speaking to ANI, Naidoo said that the series will be closely contested and the Omicron COVID-19 variant would not be of any hindrance.
"As you said, this series will mark the 30th anniversary of cricketing relations between India and South Africa. When South Africa was readmitted to the ICC in 1991 the first tour that we went on was to India in the same year and India then toured the following year for four Tests and seven ODIs in 1992-93. We are excited about the series, the T2OIs will be played later but we are confident that the upcoming series will be closely contested," Naidoo said in an exclusive chat.
"CSA are fully equipped to ensure that the series goes ahead and we will ensure the protection of players from both India and South Africa. The series will be contested in a bio-secure environment. India will be travelling to South Africa via a charter flight. The hotel staff of the Indian team will be regularly tested for the virus, the hotel staff will be staying in the hotel only for the duration of the Indian team's stay in South Africa. Once the Test series concludes, both India and South Africa squads will travel to Paarl through a chartered flight," he added.
When asked about the discussions with BCCI regarding the tour, Naidoo said: "We were in constant touch with the BCCI. We would like to thank them for going on with the tour. We were also in touch with our own epidemiologist about the spread of COVID-19 and further measures that we need to take to ensure that the series goes ahead. We relayed the entire information to the BCCI and they were satisfied that the series could go ahead. Tests and ODIs will be played first, and T20Is will be played at a later stage."
"Globally, we have grown accustomed to this. Teams have been playing cricket in bio-bubbles for more than a year now. Earlier this year, India was in the UK when there were elevated levels of transmission of the virus and the tour went ahead. Right now, Ashes is going on in Australia, we have seen how certain teams have different standards when it comes to touring countries, but we appreciate how BCCI did not fall into that trap and we really appreciate India touring South Africa and it shows how good the friendship is between both countries," he further remarked.
The tour will get underway with the Boxing Day Test from December 26 at SuperSport Park, Centurion. The second Test will be played in Johannesburg from January 3 to 7 while Cape Town will host the third and final Test from January 11 to 15.
After a four-day gap, the 50-over series will kick-off at Paarl. The second ODI will also be held at Paarl on January 21 whereas Cape Town will stage the third game on January 23.
Taking about the attendance of crowd during the India-South Africa series, Naidoo said: "The regulations at the moment state that only 2,000 spectators can be allowed inside the stadiums. We will be guided by whatever decision the government takes keeping public safety in mind. We will make every effort to ensure that the series is enjoyed by everyone, even if spectators are not allowed, there will be dynamic interaction with people who might watch the series on television. We will ensure that everyone enjoys this series."
(With ANI inputs)