Proteas touring deadline looms large

Mark Boucher (Head coach) and Quinton de Kock(C) during the South African national mens cricket team training session and press conference at Mangaung Oval on March 03, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images)

Graeme Smith has crunched his numbers and determined the national team needs six weeks to prepare for any upcoming tour. That complicates things immensely.

Acting director of cricket Graeme Smith has done his sums and says the Proteas would need six weeks’ notice that international sport is back on before they would be able to tour.

With the number of Covid-19 infections steadily increasing, as well as more mortalities being recorded, there is still great uncertainty over when cricket will return to normal.

South Africa’s lockdown is due to end on 17 April.

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According to the Future Tours Programme, the Proteas are scheduled to tour Sri Lanka for three ODIs and three T20s from 1 June, but for that tour to go ahead, clearance would need to be given by 20 April.

A longer tour of the West Indies, featuring two Tests and five T20s, is due to begin on 15 July, meaning the cut-off date for that trip would be 3 June.

“We are reviewing the situation every week and we estimate the Proteas would need about six weeks to get ready before a tour. Not just in terms of getting their fitness and skills work up to speed, but also all the financial things that need to be in place and holding flights for instance. So now we have a timeline to make a decision over both the Sri Lanka tour and the trip to the West Indies after that.

“At this stage the national camps that Mark Boucher announced are not going to happen. But we have sent communications to 47 players, as well as those in the national academy and the women’s Proteas, about the fitness expectations. We’ve had to review our strategies and we’ve given them winter programmes. It’s about how they maintain fitness and it is their own self-responsibility,” Smith said.

While it may be considered extreme, Cricket South Africa acting CEO Jacques Faul admitted that part of their strategic planning at the moment deals with what happens if international cricket were to peter out.

“We have two approaches in our planning – what is immediately in front of us and then a “helicopter view” of the long-term scenarios. We need to assess our resources now and how far we can stretch them. The worst-case scenario is that cricket becomes just a recreational sport. Then there’s the best-case scenario and the one between those two is probably the most likely.

“Our biggest income source is broadcasting rights, so if cricket falls over it will come from there. But the biggest concern for all of us is the well-being of our loved ones, There are bigger challenges right now than sport,” Faul said.

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