South Africa v England: ODI series called off after Covid-19 tests

Quinton de Kock and Jonny Bairstow
England beat South Africa 3-0 in a Twenty20 series that was completed before the cancelled one-day internationals

England's tour of South Africa has been abandoned after a number of a positive coronavirus tests.

A South Africa player and two members of hotel staff tested positive, while England say two members of their party returned "unconfirmed positive tests".

A three-match Twenty20 series was completed, but a three-match one-day series has been postponed.

A statement said the tour was called off to "ensure the mental and physical health and welfare of players".

England are still waiting for ratification of their positive tests, with the two people affected set to be tested again on Monday.

The results will not come before Tuesday at the earliest and the tourists will not leave South Africa before they have been received.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) said they will look to reschedule the ODIs, which form part of the International Cricket Council Super League.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "We have always maintained that the welfare of our players and management is paramount.

"We were concerned about the potential impact that recent developments might have on the wellbeing of the touring party, and so after consultation with Cricket South Africa, we have jointly made the decision to postpone the remaining matches in this series, in the best interest of the players' welfare."

Acting CSA chief executive Kugandrie Govender said: "The concern over the mental health impact of recent events on all involved is not one that we as CSA or the ECB take lightly, and the decision to postpone the tour is the most responsible and reasonable course of action for us."

Ashley Giles, managing director of England men's cricket, is with the team in South Africa and says extra steps will be taken before future assignments abroad.

Asked if players would be asked if they wished to travel, Giles said: "Absolutely. On the back of this an important part of it will be mental health screening.

"These are very difficult environments, those layers of bio-security just add a different level of anxiety.

"These guys have been living in bubbles for long periods of time and their mental health and wellbeing is the absolute priority for us.

"If we consistently say that's the most important thing for us, when we're tested we can't move away from that."

England deny that net practice helped spread virus

England also released a statement rejecting any suggestion that their use of nets at Newlands in Cape Town was a factor in the outbreak, saying their decision to practise in the nets came as a result of "unacceptable" facilities.

England used the nets on Thursday, the day before Friday's first ODI, which was called off after a South Africa player tested positive for coronavirus.

The nets are next to a building site at the Kelvin Road End of the ground and were not designated for use during the series.

"On arrival at Newlands on 3 December, we advised the venue the three nets provided on the main pitch were not of a standard for conducive practice," read an England statement.

"We requested with Cricket South Africa we would like to use the practice nets and that we would create a security cordon to ensure the players and coaches could enter the facility safely, as done previously on 28 November.

"This was confirmed by England's security team, the team operations manager and the team doctor. We were satisfied with this outcome and we were able to practise in the net facility safely."

From positive tests to abandoned tour - how it all unfolded

As of Monday morning, the two unnamed members of the England party who tested positive for Covid-19 were self-isolating in their rooms at their hotel in Cape Town.

Whereas there was a time on Sunday when all players and staff were in isolation, those with negative tests were allowed to use the open spaces of the hotel's grounds on Monday.

The hotel forms part of the 'bubble' in which the series was being held, with players only leaving to train and play.

All three matches in the T20 series were unaffected, despite two South Africa players testing positive for coronavirus and another two being placed in isolation.

However, Friday's first one-day international was postponed when it emerged an unnamed South Africa player had returned a positive test, with Sunday's game called off after the hotel staff tested positive.

Later on Sunday, England announced two members of their touring party had given positive tests.

At the time, England said a decision on the rest of the matches in the series would be taken after the positive tests had been independently ratified.

However, Monday's game was cancelled on Sunday, and the tour was abandoned on Monday.

This was England's first overseas trip since their tour of Sri Lanka was cut short in March because of the spread of the pandemic.

England were able to fulfil their entire home summer schedule by playing matches in a bio-secure environment at grounds in Manchester and Southampton.

They are due to tour Sri Lanka and India in the new year, with the squad for Sri Lanka departing the UK on 2 January.

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