Cricket South Africa (CSA) is hopeful that a move to Level 3 in the national lockdown leaves the sport on track to return to the field as soon as possible.
While sports like rugby and soccer in South Africa have been hit particularly hard from an economical point of view as a result of the coronavirus – Super Rugby and the PSL have both been suspended indefinitely – cricket in the country is currently in the middle of its off-season.
South Africa’s next participation is a tour to the West Indies in late July for two Tests and five T20s, but of more financial interest is a lucrative three-match T20 series against India on home soil in late August or early September.
All matches would have to be played without spectators present, but between 90-95% of the income for the Indian tour would lie in broadcasting.
Those dates are yet to be confirmed, but in a leaked draft proposal of the new regulations for Level 3, there was encouraging news for non-contact professional sports.
While all gatherings remained banned, there were exceptions made for a couple of scenarios in the proposal and one of those was for “professional non-contact sports matches”.
On Sunday, the only mention Ramaphosa made of sport was in the following statement: “Any place open to the public where cultural, sporting, entertainment, recreational, exhibitional, organisational or similar activities may take place will remain closed.”
The draft regulations, though, said that exceptions would be made to allow professional athletes from non-contact sporting codes to train.
All of the proposals in the draft regulations still have to be finalised, so there is nothing confirmed yet, but CSA is hoping they have clarity on the matter this week.
Last week, Proteas team doctor Shuaib Manjra spoke at length about CSA’s commitment to ensuring the safety of all players and officials once cricket does return, even suggesting the implementation a unique bio-bubble – a sterilised environment where cricketers will be based throughout the duration of a tour or series.
Allowing the players to return to training next month would also be crucial to head coach Mark Boucher’s preparations for the T20 World Cup, scheduled for October this year in Australia.
With international travel still suspended, though, the West Indies tour does remain in doubt.
In a press conference last week, CSA’s Director of Cricket Graeme Smith did hint at the possibility of the West Indies series being hosted in South Africa. There have been no developments on that front yet, but CSA is understood to be exploring all options in an effort to get cricket on television sets as soon as possible.