CA to pay out-of-pocket expenses over ‘untenable’ South Africa tour
Cricket Australia has offered to pay its South African counterpart “out-of-pocket expenses” for aborting this month’s Test tour but insists the absence of a detailed bio-security plan and the risk of a coronavirus infection had made the trip “untenable”.
In a letter directed to Cricket South Africa interim board chairman Dr Stavros Nicolaou earlier this month, and later leaked, CA chairman Earl Eddings said his organisation shared “extreme disappointment” for having opted to postpone the three-Test series and “was conscious of the many unfortunate consequences of this decision” despite enjoying its “broader relationship with CSA”.
South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen is bowled during the recent Test series against Pakistan.Credit:AP
CA’s decision has infuriated the interim South African board, which said it had catered to all of Australia’s needs to ensure the financially lucrative series went ahead.
“Notwithstanding the additional measures that CSA sought to implement as discussions progressed, our medical experts determined that the residual risk of members of our touring party contracting COVID-19 remained at a level inconsistent with our duty of care, when taking into account the prevalence of COVID-19, the more contagious strain of COVID-19 first discovered in South Africa, restrictions relating to travel from and into Australia and the considerable challenges of repatriation to Australia of anyone who contracts COVID-19 while in South Africa (and their close contacts within the squad), including the requirement for all returning persons to present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure,” Eddings wrote.
“We acknowledge that CSA considers it disappointing that the tour was postponed relatively late in discussions. I assure you that our teams were under instruction to do whatever they could to make the tour happen, hence our continuing to work intensively and in good faith on plans and bio-security protocols until recent days, when it eventually became clear that the residual risks were untenable.
“As soon as this became clear, we let you know immediately as we were conscious that CSA would shortly start to commit to costs such as hotel deposits. As discussed with your interim CEO, we are willing to discuss contributing towards out-of-pocket expenses incurred in planning for the tour, noting that, like you, we have invested many hours of work, including hiring leading medical experts in an attempt to make the tour happen.”
The Age and Sydney Morning Herald previously reported that CA had yet to receive confirmation about how the players would be transported under bio-secure conditions from O.R. Tambo international airport to the team’s country-style ranch, Irene Country Lodge in Pretoria, where the Australians were to be based for Tests in Johannesburg and Centurion.
However, CSA has since denied that, and a spokesman provided insight into what CA had requested when quoted on the Manners on Cricket blog. The spokesman said the tourists would either have passed immigration at a private terminal or been picked up on a bus on the tarmac, complete with a police security detail, and completed their details at Irene Lodge.
“To imply they didn’t know how they would be travelling is disingenuous, at best. We already had the main driver and a reserve driver quarantining at Irene. CA even stipulated that they wanted four or five protective ‘layers’ between the players and the drivers, despite their 14 days quarantine,” the spokesman said.
“The drivers would have to wear an inner mask, an outer mask, a visor and there would have to be Perspex shields installed between the players and the driver. The bus would be cleaned and sanitised to the highest standard every day. CA knew all of this …”
CSA did not wish to comment when contacted through the week but has written to the International Cricket Council seeking feedback, with one option under consideration being whether it can take CA to the dispute resolutions committee.
CA on Saturday reaffirmed it had wanted the tour to go ahead, provided all protocols were met, and has regularly pointed out its decision may have all but ended the team’s hope of qualifying for the inaugural World Test Championship final.
CA had offered to stage the series in Australia, with Perth an option, but CSA but rejected this.
“As you will be aware, approximately three weeks ago we made the offer to CSA to host the series in Australia given the relatively lower incidence of COVID-19 in Australia at this time. This would have ensured that the series could go ahead safely,” Eddings said.
“We of course respect your decision not to take up this offer. We are again deeply sorry that we are unable to tour at this time, however, on the basis of the medical advice and our associated duty of care obligations as a board, in the end we were left with no choice.
“We are conscious of the many unfortunate consequences of this decision, including for cricket fans in Australia, South Africa and around the world, who will for now miss the opportunity to watch what promised to be a terrific Test series. There is also great disappointment among our playing group and the Australian public.“
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