England cricket team’s ODI series against South Africa has been called off on medical grounds after two unnamed England players returned "unconfirmed positive tests” of the global virus.
It was only last week that the first One-Day International between the two teams was postponed to Sunday before it was completely called off as two members of the staff at the team hotel (Vineyard Hotel) tested positive. This was followed by two "unconfirmed positive tests" from England’s touring party which resulted in the postponement of the second ODI, initially scheduled on Monday, December 7.
Kugandrie Govender, Cricket South Africa's acting CEO, said: "The concern over the mental health impact of recent events on all involved is not one that we as CSA or the ECB take lightly and the decision to postpone the tour is the most responsible and reasonable course of action for us.
"I would like to thank the ECB for the continued positive relations and we look forward to hosting the England team in the near future."
Sources quote that the teams were hopeful of playing back-to-back ODIs at Newlands in Cape Town on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the tour has rather been called off. The entire touring party was forced to self-isolate in their rooms after the tests on Sunday, but were later allowed (apart from the two positive cases) to use the hotel grounds a day after.
The England team is set to travel back on Thursday, but those affected with the virus will now need to isolate for 10 days, meaning that they won’t be flying back home.
Since the tour commenced in mid-November, two South African players had tested positive while they were in the bio-bubble. One of them tested positive before the three-game T20 series while the other tested for the virus before the first ODIs.
Additionally, one Proteas cricketer tested positive before South Africa and England went into a 10-day quarantine period at their Cape Town hotel that they shared before the start of the series.
This comes as a major blow for the South African cricket team as they were set to host the likes of Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia in the coming months.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Rodger Bosch