Postponed ODI series vs England big blow for South Africa as focus shifts to Tests, says Kass Naidoo

Kass Naidoo says the postponement of South Africa’s ODI series against England is a big blow for the Proteas as attention now turns to the Test matches against Sri Lanka and a possible tightening of bubble policy…

The postponement of South Africa’s ODI series against England would have drawn far more criticism if these were normal times, especially after months of administrative turmoil at Cricket South Africa.

But there is nothing normal about 2020, and the current mood in the country is heavy, as Covid-19 infection rates spike and the spectre of death looms large.

So there is a sense of acceptance, tinged with disappointment, as South African cricket works to ensure that the rest of the summer’s home international cricket goes ahead.

  • South Africa vs England ODI series postponed
  • Ashley Giles: Bubble safety fears raised anxiety levels

Word on the ground is that CSA did its best to secure the bio bubble, while allowing for controlled leisure time to combat further player fatigue. This could change, and we may well see them tighten up bubble protocols ahead of further incoming tours.

What will probably hurt CSA is that leading fixtures across men’s and women’s sport are being successfully hosted in bio-secure environments around the country.

Commercially, the England tour cancellation couldn’t have come at a worse time for the organisation, which has been hard at work securing leading sponsor and broadcast deals.

You need the players on the field to show commercial value and this is where CSA has been dealt a severe setback – but they have rightly put the players first at a time when no chances can be taken health-wise.

An England tour to South Africa benefits all involved. Cancelled fixtures will also hit event suppliers, who would have been banking on this work after a devastating year for small businesses.

From a playing perspective, this postponed tour will delay the progress of building the Proteas’ limited-overs unit. A series against the men’s 50-over world champions would have been the ideal way to kickstart the rebuilding process.

Perhaps if this tour came earlier in lockdown and far away enough from the Big Bash League and the pressures of more bubble life, it would have gone ahead. The hope is that CSA and the ECB find a way to reschedule this series soon.

For South Africa, the focus now shifts to the Test format as they prepare to welcome Sri Lanka for a two-match Test series, starting on December 26.

It has been good to see the talented Aiden Markram reel off centuries in the domestic four-day competition. With the Proteas’ Test squad announcement imminent, it puts him back in contention for a red-ball call-up.

The team is due to gather on December 19 ahead of the first Test in Centurion.

Watch South Africa’s two-Test series against Sri Lanka live on Sky Sports Cricket from Boxing Day.

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