New COVID-19 variant forces postponement of final two ODIs between SA and Netherlands

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27 Nov 2021 | 04:24 PM
authorcricket.com staff

New COVID-19 variant forces postponement of final two ODIs between SA and Netherlands

The series was under threat after a European ban was imposed on travel from South Africa following a new variant of coronavirus

The three-match ODI series between South Africa and the Netherlands was on Saturday postponed amid concerns over a new variant of COVID-19 in the country.

The first ODI was abandoned due to relentless showers in Centurion on Friday. The bilateral series is part of the World Cup Super League, with the following two matches scheduled at the same venue on November 28 and December 1. 

The two cricket boards, Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond (KNCB) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) mutually decided to defer the series due to the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, 

"We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount," said Pholetsi Moseki, the acting CEO of Cricket South Africa.

"The mental well-being of players is CSA's top priority, and we respect our visitors' position and point of view.

"CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023," he added.

In a tweet, Netherlands coach Ryan Campbell said that the team played the first ODI under "unbelievable pressure hanging over their heads" after many countries, including the UK, USA, and the European Union imposed restrictions on flights arriving from South Africa.

"We are saddened by these circumstances but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team's position," said Jurgen Delfos, the Chairman of the KNCB.

"It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted," said Delfos.

"Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts. We have been looking forward to this series against the Proteas for some time and are keen on returning to South Africa in the near future," he added.

With the first game washed out, the Netherlands remained at the bottom of the points table, while the hosts are in the ninth position, outside f the automatic qualification zone.

The detection of the new variant -- B.1.1.529 -- has set alarm bells ringing across the globe. Scientists believe that the high number of spike mutations could make the new variant more resistant to vaccines, making it more transmissible and causing an increase in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

 (With inputs from PTI)

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