Covid-19 Omicron: BCCI closely monitoring India A’s South Africa tour

The board is following the situation in the country where the latest virus variant was first detected; SA board will be anxious the lucrative India senior tour in December-January is not called off
Image used for representational purpose(Getty)
Image used for representational purpose(Getty)
Updated on Nov 28, 2021 09:08 PM IST
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By, Mumbai

With anxiety mounting over the spread of new Covid-19 variant Omicron in South Africa and travel restrictions being imposed by many countries, the India A team’s ongoing tour of the country has raised serious concerns.

India A’s second red-ball game due to start on Tuesday is on schedule as of now but a BCCI official said: “The team is in a bio-bubble and Cricket South Africa has given us assurance of the precautions taken. Our operations team is closely monitoring the situation and we are getting continuous feedback.”

There is no long-distance travel involved for the team with all three four-day games being played in Bloemfontein. The first match played last week ended in a high-scoring draw after rain on the last day. The success of the India A tour is important for CSA as the senior India side is due to leave for South Africa on December 8 for a full tour scheduled from December 17.

India are scheduled to play three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is.

With countries imposing travel bans from many African countries, the ODI series between South Africa and Netherlands has been postponed. The International Cricket Council called off the Women's World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe on Saturday. Six members of the Sri Lanka team there have tested positive for Covid though it is not known if it is for the Omicron variant, Reuters reported on Sunday quoting Sri Lanka Cricket.

Vernon Philander, the former SA pacer with the Pakistan team in Bangladesh as bowling consultant, has decided to leave the team bio-bubble on Day 4 of the Chattogram Test on Monday due to uncertainty about flights into South Africa, ESPNCricinfo reported. He was originally due to leave after the Test.

Travel bans and restrictions on flights from South Africa have been imposed by the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union with the list growing. According to reports, India’s health ministry has laid down strict travel protocols for passengers from risk countries. Those arriving from three Omicron hotspots—South Africa, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong—will require a negative RT-PCR test report at the airport to be allowed to leave. 

An India team tour guarantees huge financial returns for the host cricket boards and CSA is anxious for the series to happen. Recently South Africa’s former captain Farhaan Behardien underlined the importance of the tour for the future of SA cricket. “I hope the biggest cricket nation in the world tours our country next month!! The future generation of South African players need it more than ever,” he tweeted.

Sports minister, Anurag Thakur, has said that BCCI must consult the government first before the tour in the current situation.

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