I understand the need to get going due to economic losses the game sustains which impacts on peoples’ jobs and livelihood, but this pandemic is a serious thing.
CAPE TOWN – Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince understands the need to get the game going again, but believes that “we cannot be risking lives playing cricket” during these unprecedented times.
Prince and his team’s domestic season was cut short back in March due to Covid-19. However, the South African government ruled last week that cricket – as a non-contact sport – can return to its training fields once again.
Although the focus will primarily be on the national men’s and women’s Proteas teams getting up and running once more, the opportunity is there for franchises to begin pre-season training. The majority of lockdown has coincided with the off-season in SA.
“We’re having a meeting today with the players to discuss the protocol and safety measures about returning,” Prince told IOL Sport.
“Under normal circumstances we would have looked to come back on 1 July anyway, but that’s when the season gets underway in October.
“We don’t really have a fixed date for when we’ll be playing again now – possibly only in November at the earliest, so that does change things in the way we plan. But … for us or me anyways, there is no rush. I understand the need to get going due to economic losses the game sustains which impacts on peoples’ jobs and livelihood, but this pandemic is a serious thing and we cannot be risking lives playing cricket.”
The Western Cape is one of the country’s Covid-19 hotspots with over 59 000 confirmed cases – the highest in SA – and Prince is entirely cognisant of this fact, particularly as the Cobras are not in possession of their own indoor training facility. The Cobras currently have an agreement with Bishops Diocesan College to utilise their indoor cricket centre. This situation is not ideal as the Cobras will not have sole access to the facility.
Prince therefore stressed the importance of regular testing for both management and playing staff, while the indoor centre will be regularly sanitised.
“All the players will be tested prior to the resumption of training. Some players could be asymptomatic and this could be very dangerous as they will come into contact with others who will then be in contact with their families and people they live with,” Prince said. “But we are in constant consultation with Dr Shuaib Manjra (Cricket SA’s chief medical officer) regarding the protocol and safety measures required.
“Clifford Dodgen (Newlands cricket ground manager) has also been appointed the Cobras’ Covid-19 operations manager and he is in contact with Bishops regularly over the sanitisation process at the facility.”
The Cobras had a disappointing 2018-19 season after showing plenty of promise the previous year. This was largely due to the team being severely impacted by Proteas call-ups with batsmen Janneman Malan, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza and Kyle Verreynne being away on national duty for large parts of last season.
There are, though, a host of exciting new signings such as top-order batsman Tony de Zorzi and all-rounder Corbin Bosch who could potentially light up Newlands next season.