A few hours after suspending the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) decided to call off the remaining two ODIs versus South Africa in Lucknow (on Sunday) and Calcutta (March 18).
The decision came barely 24 hours after it was announced that the remainder of the home series would be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The BCCI along with Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Friday announced to reschedule the ongoing ODI series in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak,” the BCCI said in a media release on Friday. “Cricket South Africa will visit India at a later date to play 3 one-day Internationals. The BCCI-CSA will jointly work out the revised schedule.”
The statement seemed to suggest that the two teams would play a fresh set of three ODIs after the first ODI was washed out without a ball being bowled in Dharamsala.
According to sources, South Africa players raised concerns over the current situation and were keen to return home. In another release, CSA said chief executive Jacques Faul and interim director of cricket Graeme Smith had personally been in contact with the BCCI and “expressed their gratitude for their understanding and cooperation in arriving at this very responsible decision”.
Faul added that the CSA was also doing a risk-assessment of its ongoing domestic season. “Our view is that this decision is both necessary and a precaution that had to be taken in the interest of cricket and the sustainability of the game,” Faul said. “We are monitoring the situation with the virus and are in constant consultation with medical and virology experts.”
England to return
England’s ongoing tour of Sri Lanka was on Friday called off, the ECB said, calling the situation unprecedented.
The decision was announced while the English cricketers were playing the second day of their final warm-up fixture in Colombo. A two-match Test series, part of the World Championship, was due to start in Galle next Thursday.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have today made the decision to return our players to the UK and postpone the forthcoming Test series between Sri Lanka and England,” the ECB said in a statement.
“At this time, the physical and mental well being of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.”