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India’s tour of South Africa may get rescheduled by BCCI and CSA

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Kriralok Desk: With time running out and a number of plans yet to fall into place for India to fly to South Africa, the BCCI is left with no choice now but to sit across the table with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and reschedule the series.

There’s an effort being made right now by the BCCI to see if three Test matches can be brought down to two, thus allowing the Indian team some more time before they can fly out. Any call to this effect is likely to be taken over the next 48 hours.

The Indian cricketers remain unconvinced about the tour – to play the three Tests, three one-day internationals and four T20s- as of now. Arriving in Mumbai to play the second test against New Zealand and knowing that they would be expected to immediately move into a bio-bubble, the players have a lot of questions and no answers.

Team members had raised a set of questions recently when news started coming in over the last two weeks of a new variant mutating at a very fast pace in countries like South Africa and Botswana. However, the BCCI and Cricket South Africa (CSA) both maintained that the series could go ahead inside a very strict bio-secure bubble, while ensuring the series would require bare-minimum air travel within South Africa, thus reducing the risk of any outside contract.

The first two Tests are scheduled in Johannesburg and Centurion, a drive away from each other while the third Test and the white-ball matches are scheduled in Cape Town and Paarl, again within a short driving distance.

The Indian board was scheduled to revert to the players and provide answers to the queries that was raised. TOI understands that the BCCI had agreed to the idea of answering these queries in a form of a FAQ, which hasn’t happened yet.

“Until the players get a reply from the BCCI, confusion will prevail because nobody knows anything. But if you look at the statement that’s been released by a ministerial department of the government of South Africa, it emphasizes on the security process and thanks BCCI for the deep relationship the two countries have shared. That’s their way of saying, ‘ come and we will take care’. The ball is now in BCCI’s court,” say sources privy to developments.

For the record, SA’s Ministry Of International Relations wrote to the BCCI this week.

Those in the know say BCCI is convinced about the tour and the fact that it can be held inside a strict bio-bubble, especially with the SA government giving assurances and CSA being party to the preparations. However, the Indian board will still have to consider a renegotiation and a possible rescheduling because it is short on time.

The sureties on part of CSA notwithstanding, the BCCI will also have to make the effort to convince its own players of the safety protocols and that can only happen through a dialogue. “There are no signs of any dialogue yet. The office-bearers are busy getting ready for the AGM in Kolkata on December 4. There’s an IPL governing council meeting too. Where’s the time? By now they should’ve already gotten into active mode,” sources add.

Starting Wednesday, the Indian team will get busy with the second Test match in Mumbai and once again, getting to sit across the table with players and talking this out takes time. Therefore, the BCCI is left with no choice but to reschedule the series.

Meanwhile, it must be stated that this India tour of South Africa will be an extremely important one for CSA and its finances, especially with the pandemic taking a huge toll on the economics of the game in their country. “If the tour doesn’t go ahead, CSA will take a severe knock in the knee,” say those tracking developments.