Well, if you ask Cricket Australia, the answer is a prompt yes, given the situation in South Africa with the new virus mutation, deemed an ‘unacceptable risk’ by CA’s interim CEO Nick Hockley.
This after the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa relaxed the lockdown regulations recently which was earlier at an adjusted level 3 by opening up beaches and public parks.
Yes, South Africa is still seeing a daily rise of about 5000 cases, but they have crossed their peak which was about 21,980 cases on January 8th.
Cricket South Africa has left no stone unturned in making this tour as safe as possible for the touring Kangaroos by making their own Proteas team, currently engaged in a test series in Pakistan, come in early and follow a strict 14-day quarantine before the Australians arrive.
Hence, the T20 arrangement of the Pakistan series will be adhered to by a second Proteas outfit, so that there is absolutely no risk to the incoming Australians of any Proteas player testing positive.
Add to this, Graeme Smith, CSA’s Director of Cricket has made sure that even the hotel staff where the Australians would stay and their bus driver would observe this 14-day quarantine along with offering the Baggy Greens the complete Irene Resort which had previously been shared by South Africa and Sri Lanka in their recently concluded two-test series.
So, this would mean the Proteas would stay in another hotel.
Also, on Cricket Australia’s request, CSA have invested money in purchasing an Australian track-and-trace system if any of their players test positive and obtaining government-sanctioned VIP treatment for the touring party.
One shouldn’t forget, CSA did a fantastic job in successfully hosting Sri Lanka for a two-test series and Pakistan’s women team amid a successful bio-bubble.
So, despite the best bio-secure measures in place, Cricket Australia still feel coming to South Africa is an unacceptable risk thereby cancelling or postponing the tour at the eleventh hour.
Well, I am not one to mince my words and for me, what’s unacceptable is the power game that the ‘Big 3’ in world cricket i.e. India, Australia and England keep playing with the smaller teams.
Now here’s a question.
If this was a tour to India, would Cricket Australia have dared to cancel at the last moment? India also has about 12,000 cases on an average rising daily.
Or for that matter, if this was an Ashes tour to the UK, which is another Covid hotspot, would CA still have cancelled despite knowing about the best bio-secure arrangements?
The answer most likely is no, and the reason seems simple.
A lot of money is at stake.
Is it clear then the ‘Big 3’ are only interested in playing among themselves?
If that’s the case, why have a World Test Championship? As the lesser teams would obviously not play any where close to the amount of matches the ‘Big 3’ play.
What about the financial loss of about 40 million rand that CSA, who is already engulfed in a financial struggle would incur because of the tour not happening.
Would the ICC reimburse CSA or would the Australian board bear the brunt?
Imagine the state of a cricketing purist, a South African fan or an Australian fan or for that matter a neutral, who has eagerly waited to see this battle resurface after the epic series in 2018, now needs to accept, the tour is not going to happen.
Do they deserve this? What about the Protea fans for whom their team was about to face the biggest challenge of the summer?
Don’t we fans deserve an answer?
Truth be told, the questions to Australia cancelling or postponing this tour are plenty and the answers, maybe not.
Well, not unless a senior official offered his humble two cents on the matter.
Until then, one hopes there is a realization, under the pretext of the virus a lot of water has already passed under the bridge since the last one year.
And if things weren’t addressed, matters not taken seriously- one fears the worst for the financial earnings for Cricket South Africa, the disruption of the game and the spoilage of the cricketing calendar being other unsolved matters completely.
What’s rather painful, from a fan perspective, is that in an age rooting for equality, here’s the gentleman’s sport struggling to find a level-playing field.
To grow the game in its entirety, it’s time we take a stand.