South Africa v England first ODI called off at last minute after Covid positive

The first one-day international between South Africa and England at Newlands was called off just an hour before the start of play on Friday after a member of the home team’s squad tested positive for Covid-19.

a person standing in front of a mountain: Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Both squads underwent their latest round of testing on Thursday and, following the emergence of a positive result among the South Africa squad, a decision was made to move the start of the three-match series to Sunday in Paarl.

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The second match will now be staged on Monday before the final fixture on Wednesday, both of which are due to take place at Newlands. It represents the third positive test result among the 24-man South Africa squad since the start of the tour.

a group of people in a field with a mountain in the background: A beautiful backdrop but no play at Newlands.

© Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
A beautiful backdrop but no play at Newlands.

A statement from Cricket South Africa read: “CSA and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) would like to announce the postponement of the first Betway One-Day International (ODI) of the three-match series to Sunday, 06 December 2020.

“This decision results from a player from the Proteas team testing positive for Covid-19 after the teams’ last round of scheduled testing performed on Thursday ahead of the ODIs.

“In the interests of the safety and well-being of both teams, match officials and all involved in the match, the Acting CEO of CSA, Kugandrie Govender as well as the CEO of the ECB, Tom Harrison, have agreed to postpone the first fixture to Sunday.”

South Africa reported one positive test before the squad came together on 18 November, with a second then emerging two days later. David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo were believed to be the players in question, with two unnamed members of the Proteas set-up also forced to isolate.

The pair missed the three-match Twenty20 series that went ahead as scheduled – England emerging with a 3-0 clean sweep – but expected to return on Friday for the first of three one-day internationals that count towards World Cup qualification.

News of this third positive result emerged just as the England squad had arrived at the gates at Newlands to start their pre-match warm-ups. It prompted a swift return to the nearby Vineyard hotel that makes up part of the so-called ‘bubble’ for both teams during this three-week tour.

Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket, issued a brief statement following the postponement declaring himself “hopeful” that the matches could be successfully staged.

“On behalf of the England touring party and the ECB, I would like to thank Cricket South Africa for their collaborative approach to postponing today’s one-day international,” he said.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the England team and management group, and the correct decision was made following discussions between the two boards and respective medical teams.

“The England party will remain at its base in Cape Town on Friday and Saturday and we are hopeful that the three-match series will be played before we depart next Thursday starting with the match at Paarl on Sunday.”

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