‘The right decision was made’

Jacques Faul. (Photo by Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images)

Cricket South Africa says it’s ‘wonderful’ to have Proteas back from India and are ‘fortunate’ that economic impact of Covid-19 isn’t too damaging.

In stark contrast to the relationship between Cricket South Africa and the national team last year, acting chief executive Jacques Faul said it was time for the organisation and players “to stand together” which is why the decision was made to bring the Proteas back early from India.

South Africa were scheduled to play three ODIs in India but after the opening game in Dharamsala last week was washed out the decision was made to cancel the tour due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Proteas arrived back in Johannesburg early Wednesday morning.

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“It’s time for us to stand together, the world is in crisis and we have to react in a way that will safeguard lives. It’s wonderful that the Proteas are back and our policy was safety first for all the people involved. We thank the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) because it was not an easy decision and there are big financial implications for India. But we will return and honour the fixtures. But our players had to come first,” Faul said.

Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA’s chief medical officer who was specifically praised by the acting CEO for his “sterling leadership”, also explained that there was only a short period of time between the tour being given the go-ahead and the global situation changing so rapidly as to make the return of the Proteas imperative.

“Prior to the tour, CSA did a risk assessment which determined that it would be safe because India had only 30 isolated cases and they were not in the cities we were due to play in. At that time the world was a very different place, India was low risk and we decided to tour with precautionary measures put in place. But while on tour the world became a very different place, Covid-19 has changed the global environment.

“It moved from the east to the west, the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic and countries started closing their borders. India was still low risk, South Africa also, but we had to look at what was happening and predict potential risks like borders being closed and being stuck in a foreign country.

“We could have been prevented from leaving India. The players’ frame of mind was the determining factor in the decision, the players think about their families and getting stuck overseas,” Manjra said.

Faul urged all cricket fans to support the government’s measures to combat Covid-19 as they were the best way of beating the
virus.

“CSA has stopped all cricket activities for the next 60 days and we encourage people to act responsibly. Please do the right thing and don’t go ahead with any cricket activities. This is a very serious situation and we are implementing safeguards as far as possible. We call on all people in cricket to do the right thing.

“Our staff will be working remotely and the CSA board has set up an exco to speed up decision making as well as making extra money available.

“We are very fortunate this has happened towards the end of our season as we move into winter, so the financial impact will not be that big, but it will be negative,” Faul said.

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