An out of bounds Newlands net-facility has become a matter of contention after 2 England players tested positive for COVID-19. South African authorities have blamed England players for breaching the bio-secure protocols for a practice session.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, an email by Western Province informed the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) about their players using a nets facility adjoining a construction site near the ground on 3rd December.
Our 2nd ODI with South Africa will not take place on Monday 7 December.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 6, 2020
Western Province authorities added that the site lied outside the bio-secure bubble and therefore, they won’t be liable for the health and safety of the England players.
The decision has been taken by Cricket South Africa (CSA) and @ECB_cricket whilst they await the outcome of the independent ratification of the two unconfirmed positive COVID-19 tests from the England camp and the continued health and wellbeing of both playing groups.#SAvENG
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) December 6, 2020
The ECB has hit back at these claims by saying that the need to use the off-limits nets only arose because the facilities provided to them were ‘unacceptable.’ They added that the England team’s pertinent authorities had secured the area for practicing. ECB told ESPNcricinfo:
“On arrival at Newlands on 3 December, we advised the venue that the three nets provided on the main pitch were not of a standard for conducive practice, as per the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the respective boards. Batsmen were unable to face seam bowlers on the nets on the main pitch as the surfaces were rendered and unacceptable.”
“We requested with CSA that we would like to use the practice nets and that we would create a security cordon to ensure the players and coaches could enter the facility safely, as done previously on 28 November. This was confirmed by England’s Security Team, the Team Operations Manager and the Team Doctor. We were satisfied with this outcome and we were able to practice in the net facility safely.”
The first ODI was postponed and a new schedule for the 3-match series was agreed upon by the two boards after one of Proteas’ players tested positive for the virus. However, the first match had to be called off again when 2 hotel staff tested positive a few hours before play began.
Complete testing of the touring England party ensued, and two of them were said to return ‘unconfirmed’ positive cases. The test results didn’t reach till the of the 2nd ODI on Monday, which was preliminarily postponed as well.