LONDON – Cricket South Africa confirmed on Saturday that its team would not tour the Caribbean in September as hoped, dealing a harsh blow to Cricket West Indies’ plans of hosting a major series this year.
Former Test captain Graeme Smith, CSA’s director of cricket, said with South Africa’s players set to be involved in the rescheduled Indian Premier League, any window for an overseas bilateral tour would now be difficult to create.
Organisers announced recently that the lucrative IPL would now be staged in the United Arab Emirates from between September 19 and November 8.
The period had been also identified by CWI as a possible window to host South Africa in a short Test or limited overs series, at the back end of the Caribbean Premier League which runs from August 18 to September 10.
“West Indies has been postponed indefinitely. We are struggling to find a time with the IPL being fitted in,” Smith said told a media conference. “It looks like our players are going to be needed from the beginning of September, government-permitting, and travel permitting.
“Sri Lanka also [postponed]. I expect that once things get up and running, our team, on the men’s side, I would say from November onwards, if all goes well, it will be a really busy period for South African cricket, probably playing in times that we haven’t played before and trying to cram in a lot of the missed tours.”
South Africa were scheduled to play two Tests and five Twenty20 Internationals from July 23 to August 16 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted cricket across the globe.
But with West Indies’ three-Test tour of England hailed as a success for “bio-secure” cricket, CWI had hoped to lure South Africa to the Caribbean in order to kick-start its home programme.
However, chief executive Johnny Grave had also acknowledged that any home series would have been dependent on when the IPL was played.
“We very much hope that South African will be able to come here in September for either a T20-only tour or a Test-only tour at the very least,” he said recently.
“It will be dependent on the IPL. South Africa have a number of their Test players who have IPL contracts, whereas this current Test team we don’t have any IPL players in.
“We won’t be able to play Test cricket against South Africa during the IPL – Cricket South Africa have made that very clear to us. They’ve got a commitment to their players to allow them to go and play in the IPL.”
And with New Zealand limited-overs tour initially planned for July 8-19 also postponed, it means cash-strapped CWI are without any means of improving its ailing finances.