The decision of the Australian cricket team not to tour South Africa is bad news for them and South African cricket, but is a boon to their counterparts in India and New Zealand.
That is because it almost certainly puts an end to Australias chances of appearing in this summers inaugural World Test Championship final, which will be played over five days in England in June. The ICCs preferred venue for that match is Lords although the Rose Bowl in Southampton is being considered as an alternative if the pandemic crisis is still at its height.
It is the global health situation which has prompted the tours cancellation on the advice of the Australian medical authorities. In particular they are concerned about the new South African variant of the virus, which has proved to be significantly more virulent than the original strain.
It is the second successive tour of South Africa that has been cancelled dye to the Covid-19 situation.
Englands limited tour of the country was abandoned midway through before Christmas when a worker at one of the hotels the two teams shared tested positive for the virus. There were fears that members of the touring party had also been infected, although they were subsequently proved to be groundless.
Australia had led the race to contest the final for many months, but in December, the ICC changed the scoring system from one based purely on the number of points accumulated for a test match series win or draw to a pe4centage basis. This was felt to be fairer because it made allowances for those countries unable to play test series due to the health situation.
That meant that Australias surprise loss in the home series with India, suddenly relegated them to them place in the standing s behind India and New Zealand. Their only hope of rectifying that was to win the series in South Africa, and by a convincing margin.
However, the tours cancellation has put paid to that.
The only thing that could prevent an India New Zealand final is if England can somehow win their test series in India which got underway in Chennai on Friday. Most observers believe that is extremely unlikely.