Doubts over India's tour of South Africa cropped up after a new COVID-19 variant — Omicron — was detected in the rainbow nation last month.
The South Africans, including white-ball and red-ball captains Temba Bavuma and Dean Elgar, on Wednesday expressed full confidence in their cricket board’s bio-secure measures ahead of the India series later this month.
Doubts over India’s tour of South Africa cropped up after a new COVID-19 variant — Omicron — was detected in the rainbow nation last month. However, the BCCI has said that the tour is on for now with the first Test scheduled here from December 17.
The South African team has been part of eight bio-secure environments (BSE) since the COVID-19 outbreak last year including home series against England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
According to Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Chief Medical Officer, Shuaib Manjra, the board has “instituted world class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment.”
“Our main focus was to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside of its cordon,” he said in a statement.
Manjra has emphasised that the BSE has met the highest standards set by the national government and CSA.
“What we have implemented at our BSE is a cordon sanitaire which offers full and continuous protection to all individuals who respect and abide by our very demanding guidelines and rules,” added Manjra.
“Playing cricket in a BSE was a massive challenge for everyone involved in the game,” commented Proteas white-ball captain, Bavuma.
“Everything changed, from the length of our stays in hotels, to how we train and play. We weren’t even allowed to hi-five or hug each other when we celebrated wickets ? that part was easier to remember for some, more than others,” he chuckled.
Bavuma said playing in bio-bubbles has been tough and the CSA needs to be commended for its work.
“Playing cricket in a BSE was a massive challenge for everyone involved in the game. Everything changed, from the length of our stays in hotels, to how we train and play. We weren’t even allowed to hi-five or hug each other when we celebrated wickets ? that part was easier to remember for some, more than others,” he said.
“I’m confident that our BSEs are of the highest safety standards and the protocols are set not only with the everyone’s physical well-being, but mental health in mind,” Bavuma concluded.
Test captain Elgar echoed Bavuma’s sentiments.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been working in these BSE conditions for a year now, but anyone who has been affected, either directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 virus, knows that this is a necessity if we want to continue playing cricket.
“It takes a toll on a player mentally and yet this team continues to produce good results and make progress ? that’s something that I personally don’t think is being spoken about enough.
“The measures that have been put in place and the hotels have been chosen take into account the teams’ physical and mental health needs.
“We don’t know how much longer we’ll be operating like this, but it’s gratifying to know that when tours come around the health and safety of all involved is top priority,” Elgar said.
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