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England's delayed ODI series against South Africa cleared to start after host's latest Covid tests come back negative

Nick Hoult
·2-min read
England players training - GETTY IMAGES
England players training - GETTY IMAGES

England’s delayed one-day series against South Africa will start on Sunday after all players tested negative for Covid-19.

The tour was plunged into serious doubt on Friday when the first ODI at Newlands was postponed an hour before it was due to start after it emerged a third South Africa player had tested positive for the virus. 

It sparked a frantic track-and-trace operation by the South Africa management to work out which squad members had been in close contact with the unnamed player. 

The whole of the South Africa squad - apart from the player who tested positive - management and hotel staff were subjected to an emergency round of testing on Friday night with the all-clear coming on Saturday morning. England were not tested.

A statement from Cricket South Africa said: “Cricket South Africa (CSA) is pleased to announce that the entire Proteas team has returned negative results from the Covid-19 tests that were conducted yesterday evening in Cape Town ahead of the three-match, Betway One-Day International (ODI) series against England. The series opener will get underway as scheduled at Eurolux Boland Park on Sunday.”

The first ODI will be in Paarl on Sunday, the second back at Newlands under the lights on Monday. The series will end, as originally scheduled, in Cape Town on Wednesday with England flying home the following day.

England have had doubts about the robustness of Cricket South Africa’s bio-secure bubble arrangements and were seeking assurances on Friday that protocols had been followed by the South Africa squad.

One South Africa player tested positive in the initial round of testing when the squad met up two weeks ago. A second player tested positive a few days later and both missed the Twenty20 series against England. 

The third player fell ill on Tuesday, just before the last T20, and was immediately isolated from the rest of the squad. He later tested positive for Covid, an infection he had picked up since arriving in the bio-bubble environment at the team hotel, sparking panic over how he had picked up the virus. 

South Africa are down to 17 players, from an original 24, through injuries, resting players and the player who tested positive being put in isolation.