Will it be realistically possible for India to tour South Africa for a three-match T20I series in August?
The cricket fraternity was busy deliberating on the issue ever since Cricket South Africa (CSA) revealed that India would play a series in a ‘bio-bubble’ environment. However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has clarified that no decision has been taken on the tour yet.
“How can we take a position at this point in time? We are not sure about international travel or the safety measures that one needs to take,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told Sportstar on Friday.
The BCCI treasurer admitted that the Board officials did have a discussion with the CSA about the series, but no time-frame has been set. “We had told them that we will definitely consider it positively. But this request had come long time back, before the pandemic hit the world. We were positive and said that if possible, we will try and sort it out,” Dhumal said.
On Thursday, CSA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith and Acting Chief Executive Jacques Faul stated that India will play the series in August, if not then at a later date. But Dhumal said, at this point of time, it is too early to commit.
During the media interaction on Thursday, CSA chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra agreed that the COVID-19 could be at its peak in South Africa in August, but he was confident that things could go ahead in a ‘bio-bubble’ environment.
“As per the FTP, we are scheduled to tour Sri Lanka in July and play a short series in Zimbabwe. But now, we are not about sure about that. And this (South Africa tour) is beyond the FTP. So, how can we say that we will be touring in August?” Dhumal questioned.
Even Sri Lanka Cricket has written to the BCCI requesting it not to call off the tour in July. “That’s part of FTP. But how do we travel if there are restrictions in place? We haven’t called off any tours as of now, but we will wait and watch. If things are fine in one month’s time and if its safe for our players to travel, then we will think about it,” Dhumal said.
While most of the national sports federations have come up with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), is the BCCI too planning something on those lines? And now, as domestic flights are set to operate from Monday, will the players soon be called for a special camp?
“We are studying everything. We need to see how the state governments are handling the things related to travel and accordingly, we will take a call. We need to see what are the possibilities at the local level and how safe is it for the teams to train?,” Dhumal said.
“We need to see if it is possible to have a camp with all players. We will work out the best plan. Our team is working on that (SOP), following the guidelines. We have to see what suits us best and then decide accordingly,” the treasurer said, admitting that things will only be clear post May 31.
Though the BCCI feels the players need to be careful in such times, they are allowed to train at their local associations provided it is a non-containment area.