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Cricket South Africa lodges official complaint over Australian withdrawal

South Africa's cricketers celebrating during a recent test match against Pakistan
South Africa’s cricketers celebrating during a recent test match against Pakistan

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has lodged an official dispute with the sport’s world governing body over Australia’s late withdrawal from a planned tour.

CSA interim board chairman Stavros Nicolaou told a press conference on Friday that the board was “extremely disappointed” over what he described as a unilateral decision by Cricket Australia.

Nicolaou said CSA had worked for many months to satisfy Australian concerns over Covid-19 and it came as a shock to receive a letter from the Australians on 2 February citing an “unacceptable risk” because of Covid.

The decision came 22 days before the tour was due to start.

CSA’s complaint to the global body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), is understood to seek financial compensation among other things.

“We don’t know what the prospects of success are because there are provisions in the rules that relate to Covid for postponements to take place,” said Nicolaou.

“But that’s not the main issue. One needs to assess what these cancellations and postponements mean to the smaller nations or the poorer nations with less resources.

“I think there is a recalibration that needs to take place in cricket.”

Nicolaou said that the CSA had not been convinced by the reason’s given by Australia for pulling out of the tour.

They had claimed that South Africa was experiencing a peak of Covid infections with a more virulent strain of the virus and that there were concerns that Australian players might be stranded in South Africa should there be infections in their camp.

“This really confused us because the day we received the letter, South Africa was actually on a very significant downward trajectory of the pandemic,” he explained.

“We also don’t agree that there is a more virulent strain. We know there is a more contagious strain but it is not more virulent.”

He said infections had declined from a peak of 22,000 a day to a current average of between one and two thousand a day.

Nicolaou added that CSA had secured assurances from the government that would enable anyone from Australia who contracted the virus to be able to fly home.

Arrangements had also been made with private hospitals to accommodate any of the tourists if they should fall ill.

“It is a unilateral decision,” said Nicolaou.

“Our preference would be to pick up the phone, set up a call and go through the various details.”

CSA is also believed to have asked the ICC for the World Test Championship points for the series on the grounds that it cannot be re-scheduled before 30 April.

Nicolaou provided an update on the interim board’s progress towards setting up a new board, with a majority of independent directors, following the resignation of the previous board last year.

He said a special general meeting would be held next month to approve recommendations for a new structure and he expected that CSA’s annual general meeting, which was postponed from last October, would be held between April 10 and 17 to appoint a new board.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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