Farhaan Behardien is hoping that the new COVID-19 variant reported in South Africa will not jeopardize India's tour of the country next month. He said that South Africa’s young cricketers need this India tour "more than ever".
A new variant of the coronavirus, called B.1.1.529, has been identified in South Africa and the World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared it to be "of concern", naming it the "Omicron variant," which has caused a significant panic across the globe.
Scientists have said that the Omicron variant is the most heavily mutated version yet, which means COVID-19 vaccines may not be as effective for the new variant.
Cases of the new variant have mainly been confirmed in South Africa, but they have also been detected in Hong Kong, Israel, Botswana, and Belgium.
With several countries imposing travel restrictions, especially on South Africa and seven other southern African countries, the new COVID-19 variant could jeopardize India's tour of the country, as the BCCI made it clear that any decision on the fate of the tour will be taken based on the government's advice.
The Indian cricket team is scheduled to travel to South Africa for nearly seven weeks to play three tests, three ODIs, and four T20Is across four venues: Johannesburg, Centurion, Paarl, and Cape Town.
Apart from Netherlands contemplating to abort their ongoing ODI series in Centurion, the upcoming FIH Junior Women's Hockey World Cup, to be held in South Africa from December 5 to 16, was also put on hold on Friday due to worldwide fears about the new variant.
Following the news, Behardien took to Twitter on Friday, November 26, to express his rejection of the variant being identified as South African, while hoping India will travel to the country for the series.
Behardien tweeted, “I hope the biggest cricket nation in the world tours our country next month!! The future generation of South African players needs it more than ever!!”
The 36-year-old added in another tweet, “It's not the ‘South African’ variant, it was detected here among other places in the world. In the famous words of Martin Van Jaarsveld, the great Titans player, WAKE UP!!! #OmicronVariant”
(With BBC/PTI Inputs)