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Update SA's Covid crisis deepens as Paarl ODI called off

England's crisis crippled tour of South Africa took another hit on Sunday when the already delayed first ODI was abandoned. The prospect of all three games being scrapped is now more probable than possible.

Two members of staff where both squads are staying were found to have contracted Covid-19, prompting England to re-test their party on Saturday evening.

Although the match was scheduled to begin at 10am (South Africa time), by 9am neither squad had reached the ground in Paarl. CSA and the ECB said the start would be delayed, but just less than half-an-hour before the first ball was due to be bowled the news that the game had been called off was broadcast by the rightsholders.

The three-match series was to have begun at Newlands on Friday. The game was postponed after a South Africa player tested positive on Thursday. South Africa re-tested their players on Friday, and were given a clean bill of health. Because England reported no cases from Thursday's tests, they did not undergo another round of brain-scraping - until the discovery of the disease among the hotel staff.

"Whilst the ECB awaits ratification of those test results the decision has been taken to delay the start of today's ODI match," statements from CSA and the ECB on Sunday said before the abandonment was confirmed. That surely means England have found Covid in their camp.

On November 18, CSA announced the first of three positive tests among its players. Two of them were recorded after both squads had gone into the bio-bubble.

Friday's postponement prompted concerns among the English, and discussion about calling off the rest of a tour that started with a T201 series the visitors won 3-0. The time to take a decision on the issue has been reached.


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