CSA interim board chief slams ‘adverse’ England for calling off tour

Johannesburg, December 10

Cricket South Africa’s interim board chairman Zak Yacoob on Thursday criticised England for calling off their tour to the African nation midway due to the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in both camps, terming the visiting side’s attitude as “negative”.

England’s cricket tour of South Africa was called off on Monday after two members of the visiting party tested positive for the virus.

England is set to return home on Thursday after having played half of the six-game white-ball series. The three scheduled ODIs have been postponed indefinitely.

Yacoob, a retired judge, rejected suggestions that CSA’s COVID-19 protocols were not up to the mark.

“What I want to negate is the idea that our provision of services was sub-standard, and that there is any justification for the English saying that they did not want to participate and going home,” Yacoob said in a virtual press conference.

“The facts are that ultimately (England) were negative.”       

“We have gone into our protocols, and we think that (they) have been very good. There may have been an issue of psychological troubles. People may have felt nervous and complicated about the false positives, and so on.

“We do not wish to blame the English, but we wish to say absolutely and completely that any notion that they went away was our fault is completely wrong,” he added.

The series was shrouded in uncertainty after seven positive cases from the South African and English squads as well as two staff members at the Vineyard hotel in Cape Town, where the players and their support staff were staying in a bio-secure environment, were reported.

England had won the T20I series 3-0, but the ODI rubber was deferred multiple times because of positive tests, which later prompted England to temporarily call off the tour and return home. 

“There is an awkward narrative coming out that third world countries can’t manage these things properly. In my view, we have been managing the virus much better than England has been,” said Yacoob.

The CSA interim board chief, in turn, blamed the English contingent, saying the tourists were not strict while inside the bio-bubble.

“The only criticism (of the protocols) I can make is that we were too lax with the English and their desire to do things that, in our strict view, they shouldn’t be doing.

“Unfortunately, we were stronger in preventing our players from doing things and we allowed the visitors a little more laxity.

“We favoured the visitors just a little, not enough to compromise the thing. The problem with that was that it did give rise to some feelings of unfairness as far as our players were concerned. The board regretted that a great deal,” said Yacoob.

Yacoob stopped short of demanding an apology from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

“I don’t think we want an apology from anyone, but if they say lies about us we will defend ourselves. I’m prepared to leave it on the basis that we do understand, although it is sometimes difficult for us to understand, the sensitivities of the matter.

“We’ve got this virus for the first time and we do understand how people can get put off. Therefore we have to give people the benefit of the doubt,” he said. PTI

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