A domestic four-day match between the Titans and the Dolphins at SuperSport Park has been called off before the second day’s play after a Dolphins player tested positive for Covid-19. Both squads will be tested to determine if specific players need to isolate and what the implications are for both the national and franchise teams.
“Our domestic cricket has not been played in a biobubble, which is similar to many other tournaments around the world such as county cricket, but we have strict Covid-19 [safety] protocols which we adhere to,” Dr Shuaib Manjra, Cricket South Africa’s chief medical officer, told ESPNcricinfo. “We will test all the Dolphins players to determine if they need to quarantine in Centurion before returning to Durban, and we will test the Titans players as well. We have got a number of players in the Proteas squad. I don’t think it will have an impact on the Sri Lanka series but we will have to wait to make a decision.”
The latest case of Covid-19 is the fifth incident to affect South African cricket after six players were withdrawn from the Warriors franchise ahead of the opening round of domestic matches; one player tested positive before South Africa went into their biosecure environment against England another two days into the preparations; and a third the day before the first ODI, which forced the ODI series to be postponed. The Dolphins case comes as South Africa is officially into its second wave of the pandemic, with further restrictions to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening, and after Sri Lanka’s men’s and Pakistan’s women’s teams agreed to tour South Africa despite growing concerns following England’s withdrawal.
The Sri Lankan team is due to arrive in South Africa on Friday amid assurances that they will be provided with a stricter biobubble than England, who left the team hotel to play golf on eight occasions. Sri Lanka and South Africa are due to be housed at the Irene Country Club, a venue with an on-site golf course, where all hotel staff will stay on site. Whether the six South African players involved in the Titans-Dolphins fixture – Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Lungi Ngidi, Keshav Maharaj, Sarel Erwee and Keegan Petersen – will be able to join them, remains to be seen. In the worst case, one of them is among the infected players and will need to be withdrawn from the squad and more have since contracted the virus, which could force South Africa to make wholesale changes to their squad.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) follows doctor-patient confidentiality guidelines and, so, do not name players who have tested positive for Covid-19 and so it is not clear who the infected player is. The player experienced symptoms on day one of the match and returned a positive result on Sunday evening.
“With player safety and welfare paramount during the Covid-19-hit cricket season, and taking in consideration the upcoming two-match Test Series between South Africa and Sri Lanka, a decision was carried out to call off the match. CSA will determine whether the match will be rescheduled or if points will be shared between the two sides,” a CSA statement read.
At the time that the match was called off, the Titans were 269 for 9. Markram top-scored with 75, Elgar contributed 52 and Maharaj claimed 3 for 48. Both teams went into this match at the top of their respective pools. All six franchise teams are also scheduled to play in another round of matches which starts on December 20, and a decision is yet to be made about whether the games will go ahead.