Only government approval stands in the way of cricket resuming at the end of the month, with Cricket South Africa optimistic that they will get the go-ahead for a return to action on 27 June.
It will only be the Proteas playing for the time being, but all the country’s top cricketers are set to be involved in a made-for-TV match at SuperSport Park in Centurion on the last Saturday of June. With no spectators allowed, a different format featuring three different teams will be trialled and televised live by SuperSport.
CSA chief executive Jacques Faul confirmed to The Citizen on Wednesday: “Government have to gazette the Level 3 regulations and then the minister of sport will go over the return-to-play protocols that we have sent, which he must agree with. It’s in the hands of the department of sport, arts and culture, but they have been good with us. So hopefully we’ll be playing again at the end of June and we’ll start with the Proteas players, for obvious reasons.
“It’s going to be a fundraiser with an exciting new format, sadly without spectators but SuperSport will be broadcasting it live,” Faul added.
Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA’s chief medical officer, said they were confident cricket can safely go ahead under the protocols they have proposed to government.
“First of all it will be an empty stadium, we’re looking at the minimum number of people being there for the event to happen and be broadcast, which is about 200. We will limit the number of team staff, otherwise it will just be the broadcast personnel, officials, players and stadium staff. There will also be thorough cleaning of the stadium beforehand.
“The players will get in three days before and be kept in a sanitised eco-system, at the hotel, when they travel and at the stadium. We will test the players before they get to Centurion and again five days afterwards in order to get rid of any false negatives. On average it takes five days from infection for someone to test positive. In the stadium, everyone will wear masks and doors will be kept open along with other safety measures,” Manjra said.
While CSA is all ready to go with a return-to-play, government’s hands are legally tied at the moment because of the court ruling that said their Lockdown regulations were unconstitutional. Which is why fresh laws need to be gazetted and then permissions can be granted by Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
The players are obviously raring to go and the 27 June match will be a major milestone on the path to the Proteas hopefully playing international cricket again in August, with India likely to come to South Africa for three T20s and a series against the West Indies also scheduled.