In a massive setback for South Africa, fast bowler Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of the upcoming three-match Test series against India with a “persistent injury,” the host nation’s cricket board announced on Tuesday.
Taking to Twitter, Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed the development and didn’t announced any replacement for the injured paer.
“Anrich Nortje has been ruled out of the 3-match #BetwayTestSeries due to a persistent injury Ambulance. No replacement will be brought in,” the CSA tweeted.
Notably, 28-year-old Nortje has been South Africa’s premier fast bowler across formats in recent times and has played five of his 12 Tests this year. He had last represented South Africa in the longest format in the West Indies earlier in June this year and ended up picking eight wickets across two Test matches on the tour and starred in a 2-0 series win for the visitors.
Earlier on Monday, it was announced that the upcoming Test and ODI series between touring India and the hosts will be played in the absence of spectators. The call was taken as a precautionary step by CSA amid the rising Covid-19 cases in the country.
The first Test between the two sides is slated to begin from December 26 at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.
Issuing a statement, the CSA said: “Regrettably, CSA wishes to inform the most ardent fans of cricket as well as all sports lovers that owing to the increasing COVID cases around the world, and the fourth wave locally, the two cricketing bodies have taken a joint decision to protect the players and the tour by NOT making tickets available for the India vs Proteas offerings. This decision was taken in order to avoid any breaches that could compromise the tour from a Covid-risk perspective and to also maintain a hazard-free bubble environment.”
“At this stage we would like to remind all cricket fans that the tour and the matches will still be broadcast on SuperSport and SABC platforms. In addition to this and as part of ongoing efforts to increase the reach of cricket, CSA is exploring other alternative public viewing activations which will ensure that a limited number of fans are able to enjoy the summer cricket atmosphere with other fans via activation sites, while still observing the strictest safety measures and exercising duty of care. CSA will announce the available alternative public viewing activations as soon as the relevant approvals have been secured,” it added.
Meanwhile, Pholetsi Moseki, CSA Acting Chief Executive Officer said: “We acknowledge the interest expressed by the fans and other stakeholders on being able to return to stadiums and want to assure all cricket fans that this decision was not taken lightly, but was instead taken in the best interest of the game and in the interest of the health and safety of all patrons. Consequently, we urge all sport lovers to exercise absolute care, during these extraordinary times.”
“I also wish to take this time to urge all South Africans to continue spreading the positive messages of VACCINATION, VACCINATION AND VACCINATION, because this is the only way that we can truly get our country back into its high economic activity, which will assist government to open up the economy and all its forms of economic activity, including allowing greater numbers of fans back into stadiums,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Mzansi Super League, the premier professional Twenty20 cricket league held annually in South Africa, was on Monday cancelled for the second successive year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Significantly, the Omicron variant, which was reportedly first detected in South Africa, has spread to many parts of the world with several nations now suspending flights to and from the country.
Earlier, the current India’s tour of South Africa was also rescheduled and the T20Is were postponed for later in 2022.
South Africa Squad:
Dean Elgar (Captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, Prenelan Subrayen, Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Duanne Olivier.