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Sri Lanka tour postponement leaves Proteas frustrated

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‘It is very sad that we have been forced to take this step and we will reschedule the tour as soon as cricket returns to a sense of normality.’ – Jacques Faul

CAPE TOWN – Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Jacques Faul had identified “health considerations” as the “overriding factor” for the Proteas’ tour to Sri Lanka in June being postponed yesterday.

The Proteas were set to play three one-day internationals and three T20s during the tour, but will now no longer travel to the island due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is very sad that we have been forced to take this step and we will reschedule the tour as soon as cricket returns to a sense of normality and our international fixture list allows,” Faul said in a statement.

“Our Proteas would not have been able to prepare properly taking our own lockdown situation into account and, more importantly, health considerations for our players, which are always paramount, was the over-riding factor.”

The ODIs would have formed part of the newly-formed ICC one-day league, which comprises the 12 Test-playing teams and the Netherlands – the 13th-ranked ODI side. The top eight teams from the league will qualify automatically for the 2023 World Cup.

“(This series) would have been a particularly important tour for us with the three ODIs counting for the new ICC one-day league and the T20 programme being part of our preparation for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup scheduled for Australia later this year,” Faul said.

“It is very frustrating for the players who want to build on the good form they showed at the back-end of our home summer against Australia.”

CSA’s new permanent director of cricket Graeme Smith had earlier indicated that at least six weeks of preparation was required by players to condition themselves for a tour.

The Proteas last tour to Sri Lanka was in 2018 under captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson. It was a topsy-turvy tour with the Test series being lost 2-0, as the Proteas suffered heavy defeats both in Galle (278 runs) and Colombo (199 runs).

The Proteas, though, hit back in the ODI series with JP Duminy leading the way in the 3-2 series victory over the hosts. Duminy was named Man of the Series for his 226 runs at an average of 56.75. The most impressive feature of Duminy’s contributions, though, was his positive strokeplay as his strike-rate for the series was a hugely impressive 135.93.

The momentum could not be carried through unfortunately as Sri Lanka closed off the tour with a 2-0 clean sweep of the T20 series.

The Proteas’ next scheduled assignment is a two-Test, five-T20 tour to the West Indies in July and August. A decision on that tour is expected mid-May.