18 Feb

World cricket’s governing body has received an official complaint from the South Africa board over Australia’s 11th hour postponement of the tour, triggering a process which could see Cricket Australia pay a significant sum in compensation. 

Escalating the conflict, Cricket South Africa (CSA) wants the matter to be heard by the International Cricket Council (ICC) dispute resolution council as to whether Cricket Australia (CA) breached agreements in place for the World Test Championship and Future Tours Programme (FTP). 

Boards can be subjected to a fine of at least A$2.58 million (US$2m) for failing to honour their FTP commitments, but there is an acceptable non-compliance clause for CA. 

CA chairman Earl Eddings, in an email leaked by South African media, has indicated Jolimont is willing to pay “out of pocket expenses” for pulling the pin on the three-Test tour, though that would likely be only a fraction of the TV revenue South African cricket stands to lose. 

CA withdrew from the tour due to the “unacceptable” health risk in South Africa, where there is a more contagious strain of coronavirus circulating in the community. CSA, citing a clause in WTC rules, wants independent health experts to determine the whether those dangers were reasonable. And it is calling for those experts to be from South Africa. 

“It would seem inappropriate to appoint a health and safety consultant outside of South Africa given that such an expert would be unlikely to properly and accurately comprehend the COVID-10 related risks within South Africa and how they may be adequately managed,” acting CSA chief Pholetski Moseki wrote in a letter quoted by the cricinfo website. “Given the nature of the pandemic, it will inevitably require location-specific advice.” 

While the number of new coronavirus cases in South Africa fell to 2320 on Wednesday (17 February), Australian health authorities have taken a stricter approach in their handling of the pandemic. 

CA says it wants to play the series at a later date, though cricket authorities in South Africa are unsure where they can squeeze the games in due to an already crowded international calendar. Both countries have a window from July to September though that may require matches to be played on the Highveld in South Africa, where temperatures can dip to near freezing at night. It is possible, however, as seen in 2016 when the Proteas hosted New Zealand for Tests in August. 

South Africa is sceptical of Australia’s preparedness to play but CA says it had devoted plenty of time and resources into saving the tour, pointing to the weakened squad it had selected for the Twenty20s in New Zealand as an indication of its willingness.   

John Stephenson 


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