The Australian cricket tour to South Africa has been called off due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic in the host country.
Cricket Australia confirmed next month’s three-Test series due to start on March 3 will not go ahead as the hosts struggle to contain the virus.
The cancellation is a massive blow for Tim Paine’s men who could now miss out on a place in the final of the inaugural world Test championship.
“Due to the public health situation in South Africa, which includes a second wave and new variant of the virus, and following extensive due diligence with medical experts, it has become clear that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to our players, support staff and the community,” said Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s interim CEO.
“We acknowledge the significant amount of work by CSA in planning for the tour, during which we made it clear that CA was prepared to take on additional cost and effort to make the series happen.
“This decision has not been made lightly and we are extremely disappointed, especially given the importance of continuing international cricket at this time, our valued relationship with CSA, and our aspirations to compete in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.”
Cricket Australia said they hoped to play the series at a later date.
“As difficult and disappointing a decision as this is, especially for Justin (Langer), Tim (Paine) and the team, we have a duty of care to our people and their health and safety can’t be compromised.
“We look forward to playing the series against CSA at a date to be confirmed in due course and we send CSA and the people of South Africa our very best wishes for a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and a return to normality soon.”
Australia’s bid to earn a spot in the world Test championship is now out of their hands.
New Zealand are in the box seat to secure one of the spots, while the four-Test series between India and England will determine who snares the other spot.
India, England and Australia are all in the mix for that spot depending on the result of that series.
CA isn’t expected to send any of Australia’s Test stars to the five-match T20 tour of NZ, given they already stated they woldn’t make changes even if the Test series in South Africa got cancelled.
But coach Justin Langer, who was due to go to South Africa with the Test team, could now coach the T20 outfit in NZ.