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Update Second ODI in Cape Town will not take place on December 7
#1

The second ODI between South Africa and England at Newlands, scheduled for Monday (December 7), "will now not take place" as scheduled as two unconfirmed positive COVID tests in the England camp are independently verified. The development was confirmed by CSA and ECB in a joint statement that was issued a few hours after the already delayed first ODI in Paarl on Sunday (December 6) was abandoned.

The opening match of the 50-over series was initially due to be played on Friday but was postponed on the morning of the game because of a positive test in the South African squad. That player, who has not been named, was isolated from the group while the rest of the home squad returned negative tests on Friday evening.

Given those results, a new schedule was agreed between Cricket South Africa and the ECB to allow the series to be completed in full. The first game was set for Sunday at Boland Park in Paarl, which was originally due to be the second match of the series, and further matches on Monday and Wednesday at Newlands.

However, the match in Paarl was initially delayed and then eventually cancelled on Sunday after two members of staff at the Vineyard Hotel, where both teams are staying, returned positive test results for COVID-19 the previous day. Following that development, England's touring party was tested on Saturday evening and the ECB confirmed on Sunday morning that those tests had returned two "unconfirmed" positive results.

Once that news came through, England's players and coaching staff were isolated in their rooms although they were allowed out later in the day. Independent ratification of the two results was requested and the outcome was still outstanding on Sunday evening, which is when Cricket South Africa and the ECB confirmed that the second ODI would not take place on Monday.

"The decision has been taken by Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) whilst they await the outcome of the independent ratification of the two unconfirmed positive COVID-19 tests from the England camp and the continued health and wellbeing of both playing groups," a joint statement from both boards read.

"Once the findings of this review have been received, CSA and ECB will then discuss how best to proceed concerning the remaining two matches of this ODI Series."

The best-case scenario now is for back-to-back ODIs to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday but the likelihood of that happening is in serious doubt. If the two positive tests from the England camp are confirmed, it is almost impossible to see how the series could continue.

Even if the investigation returns negative results, the risk of further spread cannot be ruled out given Cricket South Africa has not yet found out how the integrity of the bio-secure bubble has been compromised. If the safety of the players cannot be guaranteed, a decision to cancel the tour may still be taken regardless.

If the test results for the two England players are confirmed, they face a ten-day isolation period in Cape Town while anyone who has come into close contact with them may also be required to isolate. That would mean them missing the squad's charter plane home on Thursday.

Several of England's squad are due to fly direct to Australia to fulfil Big Bash contracts and any isolation requirements in South Africa would delay their arrival. They would then still have to go through a 14-day quarantine period in Australia which would rule them out of much of the tournament.

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