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Graeme Smith holding thumbs that fans will be back by the time India arrive

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Temba Bavuma (left) of the Mr D Food Kites and Graeme Smith SA Director of Cricket during the 2020 Solidarity Cup 3TC cricket match at SuperSport Park. File Pixture: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

SA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith hopes fans will be allowed into stadiums for the visit of India at the end of the year.

CAPE TOWN – Graeme Smith has stressed the importance of India’s end of year tour to South Africa in order for Cricket SA to maintain its development projects.

The international cricket calendar has been thrown into turmoil over the past 18 months due to Covid-19 with Cricket SA already experiencing England pulling out of an ODI series last November, while Australia did not arrive at all in South Africa back in March.

The suspension of these tours came at a great financial cost to Cricket SA, although they have since hosted both the Pakistan Men’s and Women’s teams along with the Sri Lankan Men’s team in bio-secure environments successfully.

But with England withdrawing from a short tour to Pakistan recently citing “bubble fatigue”, concerns have been raised once again about international teams’ willingness to travel during these Covid times.

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“It’s a very sensitive issue at the moment. It’s also a very complex one. The fatigue of these bubbles is certainly becoming an issue. But if we don’t help each other there are only going to be a few nations left in the game. Everyone is reliant on bringing in the finances to invest in programs like where we are sitting at today,” Smith said at the annual KFC Mini Cricket seminar.

“Cricket has to be played at the top level to get the income and investment coming into the game. If that doesn’t happen then we can’t do what we have been doing with this Mini-Cricket Programme.

“Having India here at the end of the year is a huge tour for us. It’s not only from a cricket perspective where their results over a period of time has been exciting away from home, which is unique for an Indian team. They have never won here and that adds a lot to the flavour of the Test summer.

“It’s a huge tour for Cricket SA which is trying to rebuild itself from a challenging time.”

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Smith is also hoping that spectators will be back inside South African stadiums when India arrive in December for a full tour consisting of three Test matches, three ODI’s and four T20Is.

“The chairman and the board have been in a number of meetings around it (spectators returning). We are certainly pushing hard to get crowds back for that series,” Smith said.

“I watched some videos in the first part of the seminar and looking back at the full stadiums, the energy and the vibe, and we certainly want to get that back there by the end of the year. We have done our bit in terms of pushing vaccinations and hopefully we can crowds back by the end of the year. Let’s hold thumbs!”

@ZaahierAdams

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