Proteas ODI series against England hanging by a thread

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Zaahier Adams at Boland Park

PAARL – England’s tour of South Africa is hanging by a slightest of threads after two members of the tourists’ party reported “unconfirmed” positive Covid-19 cases leading to the abandonment of the first ODI in Paarl on Sunday.

The three-match ODI series was originally scheduled to begin last Friday at Newlands, but was postponed less than an hour before the toss after a South Africa player tested positive for Covid-19.

But the match was called off altogether here in Paarl after it emerged 30 minutes before the start of play that two hotel staff members where the players are staying had tested positive on Saturday.

Cricket SA and England Cricket Board released a joint statement confirming this.

“CSA is doing everything in our power to ensure that our top priority, which is the health, safety and welfare of players, support staff and all involved in this series is safeguarded. With that in mind, we have made the joint decision to cancel today’s match,” CSA’s Director of Cricket Graeme Smith said.

“We are deeply regretful of this situation given the amount of time and energy that has been put in place to host a successful tour. We will continue to give the England team all the support that they need.

“We are in continuous talks with the ECB as we navigate the situation under the guidance of our combined medical teams.”

Ashley Giles, Managing Director, England Men’s Cricket, said: “We regret that we are unable to play in today’s ODI, but the welfare of the players and support staff is our primary concern and whilst we await the results of further tests the medical advice from both teams was that this game should not take place.

“We remain in constant dialogue with Cricket South Africa and will continue to work closely with them to determine how best to move forward.”

The “bio-secure” environment where the players are staying together at the Vineyard Hotel has come under intense scrutiny due to this being the fourth positive COVID-19 case since the players arrived on November 18.

Roy Davies, general manager of the Vineyard hotel in Newlands, has, however, confirmed that the two staff members that tested positive have not left the premises.

“At this stage, it is not clear how the staff members became infected as neither have left the biosecure area since 16 November and they do not work on the same team or in the same area. Our Covid response team is endeavouring to establish all the facts and contact tracing is under way,” said Davies.

“Our number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and guests and we have placed all our resources and efforts into investigating and resolving the situation.

“Both members of staff and a player who also tested positive on Friday are currently isolated in on-site apartments some distance from the hotel which have been kept sterilised and available for this purpose. We will issue further statements as more facts become available.”

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