The Sri Lanka tour of South Africa is likely to go ahead as planned, ending a near year-long COVID enforced break from international cricket.
The series will begin with a Boxing Day Test, followed by the second Test in early January. However, for this to go through, both boards will have to agree on the quarantine procedures in place in the visiting country.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) says discussions are, however ongoing for the series to materialise given the numerous challenges facing cricket boards around the world due to the global health crisis.
South Africa has already agreed to host England in a six-match limited over series after their government has agreed to waive the normal requirements for visitors from ‘high risk’ places in terms of COVID-19 infection. SLC is hopeful of a similar waiver for their team.
For instance, England is expected to arrive on a chartered flight to Cape Town ten days before the first match but will be allowed to train in a ‘bio-secure bubble’ during the period as opposed to the previously proposed seven-day complete isolation period.
“We are in the process of finalising it,” said SLC CEO Ashley de Silva. “But it all depends on the health crisis as the situation keeps evolving but we are hopeful that the series will go ahead.”
If it works out, it will be the first action for the Sri Lanka men’s national team since hosting West Indies in February before the pandemic hit. In that time, they had series against England, South Africa, India and Bangladesh at home, but had to postpone due to the nation-wide lockdown owing to the health crisis.
Accordingly, the national team is expected to leave for South Africa soon after the Lanka Premier League on December 14. Sri Lanka rewrote history when they toured the land of the big-fives in 2018, registering a historic 2-0 win in the Test series.
Meanwhile, SLC is also confident of getting the quarantine procedures changed to host England in January. The England series which includes two Tests was rescheduled for January next year after the visitors withdrew from the series days ahead of the first Test in Galle when the pandemic hit the island.
England had expressed their reservations over the strict 14-day quarantine procedure in place in Sri Lanka – a rule that forced Bangladesh to withdraw from their Test series last month. However, given the significant financial loss the board will have to go through in the event of any cancellation to the series, the board is in constant consultation with health authorities to relax the procedures.
“England and Wales Cricket Board has sent us a comprehensive plan for us with all precautionary measures in place to ensure the safety of the players. We have forwarded the same to health authorities for their approval,” de Silva said. England are expected to complete a two-week quarantine before boarding a charter flight to reach their destination. All what they require is to train after landing rather than in complete isolation for 14 days – a requirement that has discouraged teams.