The selection committee meeting for India’s tour of South Africa has been put on hold due to the new variant of COVID-19 creating panic globally, especially in the southern African nations.
Notably, there has been concern on the spread of the new Covid-19 variant – Omicron – which was first reported in South Africa and has spread to many parts of the world with several nations now suspending flights to and from the country.
After the completion of the ongoing home series against New Zealand, India is scheduled to play a three-Test series, as many ODIs and four T20Is during the tour, which will conclude on January 26 however, the new Covid threat has put the tour under doubt.
As per a report in Times of India (TOI), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is now waiting for a formal approval from the Indian government to send the team to South Africa.
According to reports, there are plenty of confusion over the tour and the series is likely to be rescheduled where the two teams might play two instead of three Tests.
Players like Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who were rested for the New Zealand series, were asked to enter a mandatory quarantine in Mumbai from December 3 however, according to the report, they are yet to be given a clear itinerary.
“Until the players get a reply from the BCCI, confusion will prevail because nobody knows anything. But if you look at the statement that’s been released by a ministerial department of the government of South Africa, it emphasizes on the security process and thanks BCCI for the deep relationship the two countries have shared. That’s their way of saying, ‘come and we’ll take care’. The ball is now in BCCI’s court,” sources privy to developments told Times of India (TOI).
Earlier on Tuesday, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had said that the tour remains on schedule and they’re keeping a close watch on the situation.
“The tour is on as things stand till now. We still have time to decide. The first Test is scheduled from December 17. We will ponder about it,” Ganguly told reporters on the sidelines of a promotional event.
“Players’ security and health has always been BCCI’s first priority, we will do everything possible for this. We will see what happens in the days to come,” he added.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Ministry of International relations and Cooperation of South Africa had given full assurance to the Indian government and the BCCI regarding the safety of Indian players.
The Ministry had said that the touring side would be provided the best “bio-secure environment” to ensure the safety of players from the fast-spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19.
“The Indian National Cricket Team is also scheduled to visit South Africa and will play three games during their tour. The first will be played at the Wanderers and will start on 17 December, to be followed by the second match at Supersport Park on 26 December 2021 and the third match at Newlands on 3 January 2022. Whilst in South Africa the team will also play three One Day International games (ODIs) and four T20 matches, which will all be played at Newlands and Paarl,” it said.
The statement further promised of the best “bio-secure environment” to all the teams.
“South Africa will take all precautions necessary to ensure the health and safety of the Indian teams. ‘A’ full Bio-secure environment will be established around both the South African and Indian ‘A’ Teams as well as the two National Teams,” it added.