SA v SL 2020-21: Sri Lankan authorities consider canceling tour of South Africa over COVID-19 concerns

Sri Lanka‘s two-Test tour to South Africa scheduled to begin in December has come under the threat of cancellation over COVID-19 concerns. Sri Lankan authorities are reportedly worried about the efficacy of the bio-secure bubbles in South Africa’s grounds.

This comes after England’s recent tour of South Africa ended in a fiasco. Barbs were exchanged as multiple members of both sides tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the tour. Eventually, a 3-match ODI series had to be postponed indefinitely.

Sri Lanka’s tour was slated to start with the iconic Boxing Day Test match on 26th December, followed by a second Test starting on 3rd January. As things stand, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is considering either withdrawing from the tour or offering to host South Africa at home.

Sri Lanka is concerned that its players might contract COVID-19 in South Africa and miss the subsequent England series in January, which is very important for SLC’s dwindling finances.

On the flip side, CSA’s coffers aren’t in any better shape either. They too can’t sustain the cancellation or shifting of another series, particularly when Australia and Pakistan are due to travel to South Africa in early 2021.

Until any decision is taken, SLC is pushing its South African counterparts to make the COVID-19 protocols more stringent than they were for England.

“I have to bring the [Sri Lankan] players back from South Africa without a single positive case,” Sri Lanka’s team physician Dr Daminda Attanayake told ESPNcricinfo.

“We’ve requested [South Africa’s] protocols be identical to the bio-bubble protocols we have been using for the LPL (Lanka Premier League). We’ve been successful with those. Players have tested positive but they’ve been isolated. We’re requesting these protocols be followed not just by our team, but theirs as well.”

SLC is also in talks with its counterparts in England to get a clearer picture of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) arrangements. The tour will go on as planned only if Sri Lankan doctors are satisfied with the arrangements.

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