Netherlands tour of South Africa curtailed after emergence of new Covid-19 variant

The Netherlands, who were due to play three ODIs in South Africa, will leave after the first encounter of the series.

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South Africa cricket
South Africa cricket. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Netherlands tour of South Africa stands cancelled in the wake of a heavily mutated Covid-19 variant, dubbed B.1.1.529, spreading arms rampantly in African nations.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated it will take “several weeks” to study the new South Africa-originated variant, it has already prompted the United Kingdom – where several members of the touring Netherlands team reside – to add South Africa to the red list. With restrictions on air travel being imposed, some visiting players are already fretting over the possibility of being stranded in South Africa.

The Netherlands, who were set to play three One-Day Internationals against the Proteas, were only one of the multiple countries South Africa is set to host in what will be a busy summer for them. The first ODI of the series went underway at the SuperSport Park, Centurion on November 26, although the Dutch team will leave without playing the remaining encounters, which were scheduled on November 28 and December 1.

The Proteas are due to host India next for an all-format tour comprising of three Tests, as many ODIs and four T20Is, starting from December 17 and running until January 26. Currently, India’s A team is in Bloemfontein, playing the first of the three unofficial Tests.

South Africa will also host West Indies women for a tour in January 2022 ahead of the Women’s World Cup. However, with the increasing apprehensions after the emergence of the new variant coming to the fore, the chances of the long summer plans succeeding remain anybody’s guess.

Meanwhile, on November 25, the central government of India called for rigorous screening and testing of those travelling from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where the infections of the new variant have been reported hitherto, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare terming the variant to have “serious public health implication”.

The India tour of South Africa, meanwhile, is seemingly in jeopardy after an unnamed Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) source, taking cognizance of the matter, stated that the board will have to consider the recent developments. It is understood that the final decision will be made in accordance with the central government’s response.

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