Australia’s upcoming Test series away to South Africa has been cancelled, due to the tour posing an “unacceptable level of health and safety risk” to the Australian cohort.
Cricket Australia (CA) announced the decision on Tuesday evening, with Cricket South Africa (CSA) later revealing they are “extremely disappointed” by the cancellation given the amount of work put into making the series happen.
This is the second series in South Africa that’s been cancelled, following December’s white ball matches against England which were halted prematurely after an outbreak of positive cases within the bubble.
South Africa has been grappling with a major spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, including more than 21,000 new cases in one day last week, with the increasingly contagious South Africa strain posing a major issue.
CA interim CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement: “Following extensive due diligence with medical experts, it has become clear that traveling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community.
“We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA in planning for the tour, during which we made it clear that CA was prepared to take on additional cost and effort to make the series happen.
“This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time, our valued relationship with CSA, and our aspirations to compete in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.”
The series was due to include three Test matches in the lead-up to the ICC World Test Championship, with Australia having already announced their touring squad, including stars Steve Smith, David Warner and Patrick Cummins.
The decision left CSA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith agitated given the strength of his words in a written statement.
“We are extremely disappointed by the decision of CA,” Smith said. “CSA has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure that we meet every single expectation of CA.
“This was set to be our longest tour in a bio-secure environment comprising a three-match Test series that was scheduled to begin with Australia’s arrival later in the month so to be informed about the CA decision at the 11th hour is frustrating.”