England’s first one-day international in South Africa was dramatically postponed just an hour before the scheduled start of play after a member of the home side tested positive for Covid-19.
A pre-series round of testing was done to screen the squads, who are both staying at the Vineyard Hotel near the Newlands ground, and one Proteas player was found to have the virus.
The decision was then made not to host the match as planned on Friday but the sides still hope to play the three-match series in full, with the first game now set for Sunday in Paarl before returning for games in Cape Town on Monday and Wednesday.
That plan clearly hinges on a fresh bout of testing and it is highly likely that any further confirmed cases would put the series at risk.
The first ODI of our series with South Africa has been postponed until Sunday
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 4, 2020
Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket, issued a brief statement following the postponement declaring himself “hopeful” that the matches could be successfully staged.
“On behalf of the England touring party and the ECB, I would like to thank Cricket South Africa for their collaborative approach to postponing today’s one-day international,” he said.
“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the England team and management group, and the correct decision was made following discussions between the two boards and respective medical teams.
“The England party will remain at its base in Cape Town on Friday and Saturday and we are hopeful that the three-match series will be played before we depart next Thursday starting with the match at Paarl on Sunday.”
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) December 4, 2020
CSA had earlier announced the news, saying: “This decision results from a player from the Proteas team testing positive for COVID-19 after the teams’ last round of scheduled testing performed on Thursday ahead of the ODIs.
“In the interests of the safety and well-being of both teams, match officials and all involved in the match, the Acting CEO of CSA, Kugandrie Govender as well as the CEO of the ECB, Tom Harrison, have agreed to postpone the first fixture to Sunday.”
South Africa had two players, understood to be Andile Phehlukwayo and David Miller, test positive ahead of the Twenty20 series between the sides and a further two players were asked to quarantine having been classed as ‘close contacts’.
Dec 6 (Paarl, Boland Park)
Dec 7 (Cape Town, Newlands)
Dec 9 (Cape Town, Newlands)
The remainder of the squad returned a full bill of health ahead of the T20s, allowing those three matches to go ahead as planned.
Speaking to PA news agency at the start of the tour, England’s head coach Chris Silverwood addressed the possibility of further cases emerging.
He said: “Obviously we have to look after our camp, our main focus is on making sure everything in our camp is in order and that we observe the rules, regulations and protocols in front of us.
“Hopefully that keeps us safe. I’ll be led by the doctors but ideal scenario is no-one gets it.”