Domestic cricket in South Africa was put on hold on Thursday after as many as 10 of their 16-man squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka were exposed to Covid-19 during first-class matches this week.
With South Africa officially entering a second wave of coronavirus, Cricket South Africa announced that domestic matches would be halted until next month. Three four-day matches were due to start on Sunday.
Five squad members were in a match between the Dolphins and Titans which was abandoned after one day on Monday when a Dolphins player tested positive.
Another five Test squad members played in a match between the Eagles and Lions which was completed on Wednesday despite a Lions player testing positive on the third day of the game.
The only Test squad players who either did not play last weekend or who played in a third match not affected by Covid-19 are captain Quinton de Kock, former captain Faf du Plessis, batsmen Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne, and fast bowlers Anrich Nortje and Glenton Stuurman.
South Africa’s home Test series against Sri Lanka, which starts in Centurion on December 26, is due to go ahead as planned but all members of the squad will need to be tested before entering a bio-secure bubble.
Victor Mpitsang, convener of selectors, said the Test squad was due to assemble on Saturday. “All the players will be tested before going into the bubble,” he said.
Mpitsang said it was possible some players might have to delay joining the rest of the squad depending on medical advice.
CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith said the decision to postpone the domestic matches was taken in the interest of the health of players, support staff and stadium workers.
“CSA is committed to mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on the 2020/21 season, with the upcoming two-match Test series between South Africa and Sri Lanka being played in a bio-secure environment, which is a more controlled space than the domestic competition,” said Smith.
Domestic players will be given an extended break until the start of a domestic one-day competition, which is due to start on January 8.