South Africa confirm two positive Covid-19 cases ahead of Sri Lanka series
South Africa have confirmed two unnamed players have tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of their two-match Test series against Sri Lanka that starts in Pretoria on Boxing Day, forcing the call-up of a trio of players as replacements. The positive tests were announced on Friday, a day before the team is due to enter a bio-bubble on the Highveld and follows a number of cases in domestic cricket that have sparked alarm.
“The players will no longer form part of the Test team and will observe the Covid-19 protocols, including isolating with immediate effect,” Cricket South Africa said in a statement. “CSA can also confirm that no other players in the currently named squad were deemed close contacts after contact tracing procedures were conducted.”
The selectors have added uncapped batsman Raynard van Tonder, seamer Lutho Sipamla and all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius to the squad. Former South Africa Under-19 captain Van Tonder, 22, has been in a rich vein of form in the domestic four-day competition, scoring 604 runs at an average 67.11 this season, including a double-hundred just this week. Sipamla has been capped before in white-ball cricket but earns his first Test call-up, while Pretorius has recovered from a hamstring injury that had made him a doubt for the series.
Cricket South Africa postponed the latest set of four-day domestic games that were scheduled to be played from Dec. 20-23 after a number of cases were revealed in the previous round of matches, in which some members of the Test squad played.
The positive tests are more Covid woe for the country’s cricket team after England postponed a One-Day International series earlier this month over concerns around their bio-secure environment.
Sri Lanka have already expressed some nervousness over the tour as they host England in a money-spinning two-Test home series that starts just seven days after the completion of the second Test against South Africa. That second Test takes place in Johannesburg from Jan. 3.
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