Amidst reports that South Africa have been lax about the biosecure bubble, has England set an unwarranted precedent for the future and not just South Africa’s, the signal of which appears to come from within one of their own?
There is a lot riding on South Africa to successfully host Sri Lanka come Boxing Day. What has brought on this added pressure? England’s premature departure from South Africa with the unfinished business of the series has not only put the spotlight on the crisis that is coronavirus but also, a telling indictment for teams struggling to match the big three.
Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, was willing to overlook allegations that contrary to reports that Cricket South Africa had failed to contend with covid-19 breach of protocols, it was the England cricketers and team management who chose to break restrictions for additional practice facilities as well as to play golf. Whether South Africa could have better-imposed restrictions is left to investigation.
While Cricket South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are now locked in a heated battle about who’s in the wrong as far as the truncated series goes, the fact remains that this particular incident has not only highlighted the dangers inherent in the resumption of cricket under restrictions but also, and more importantly, the issue that the coronavirus pandemic has only brought to the fore.
The issue of division within the ranks of the cricket fraternity could not be highlighted more poignantly. While Vaughan may or may not be right into using the uncertainty surrounding Cricket South Africa, that this regulation of having biosecure bubbles in place was going to divide the game was already on the cards.
While Vaughan blamed Cricket South Africa, his words bring forth why there is now a huge contention that the game could be controlled going forward by the big three – including India, Australia and England – given that either these boards have the resources or the muscle to make such tours happen. It has already ended up being a case of some series picking themselves virtually by association and some being dropped for lack of support.
So when Vaughan used certain statements when he said he had a “problem with countries like South Africa who haven’t got the money” when it comes to arranging biosecure environments under which the game of cricket has resumed, it is natural to assume that some cricket boards and thereby, their spokesperson by association or connection will hold the advantage of deciding which teams go ahead.
Vaughan only confirmed concerns echoed last week by some of the ‘smaller’ boards which stated that there was the very real danger that not just during the pandemic but well after that the game would be decided by the big three.
Vaughan went on to say, this despite Sri Lanka having landed in South Africa for two Tests and England slated to travel to Sri Lanka in the new year, that Australia would definitely not accede to honour their tour of South Africa next year.
On the face of it, it might seem a rather preposterous statement coming from an English gentleman about the prospect of one southern hemisphere nation choosing to tour another. But it speaks as if making the point, about the dichotomy that exists in world cricket, the pandemic only making the fault lines more apparent.