South Africa


Game on: England tour to South Africa gets government green light

Game on: England tour to South Africa gets government green light

England are set to play three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three T20 Internationals in a Western Cape bio-bubble. Four matches will be played at Newlands in Cape Town and another two at Paarl.

On a rare positive day for cricket, the Health Ministry has given the green light for England to tour South Africa next month, while Cricket SA named Victor Mpitsang convenor of selectors. 

The bad news is that Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa still wants the CSA board to all resign or give him compelling reasons why they should not by 27 October. 

But after months of crises and rancour, there was at last some good news for the sport. There will be international cricket in South Africa this summer. CSA will also actually make some money and not just shave some off the budget and claim it as a victory. They stand to earn R75-million from the England tour. 

Furthermore, it has been reported in the UK press that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has agreed to pick up the travel and accommodation costs of the short, six-match tour. That will save CSA R7.4-million. 

In all, England are set to play three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three T20 Internationals in a Western Cape bio-bubble. Four matches will be played at Newlands in Cape Town and another two at Paarl. 

CSA said it would “draw on the ECB’s experience” in hosting matches in a bio-bubble. England hosted successful Test and ODI series against the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia earlier this year. 

“This is a wonderful boost for cricket,” said CSA acting chief executive Kugandrie Govender. “Although all the matches will have to be played behind closed doors, I am sure that our Proteas fans will rally behind South Africa’s favourite team as they always do, but just on alternative digital and social media platforms.

“The fact that England are the current World Cup champions will add tremendously to the two series and will give our own players every motivation to perform at their very best to challenge the reigning champions. 

“I would like to express CSA’s sincere gratitude to the departments of Sport, Arts and Culture; Home Affairs; and Health, for the support they have given us to make this return to international cricket in our country a reality, while maintaining that health and safety for all remains the number one priority.” 

Tom Harrison, ECB’s chief executive officer said: “We are looking forward to touring South Africa. I would like to personally thank Cricket South Africa for their efforts in ensuring this tour goes ahead and their diligent work to create an environment that is safe for our players and staff. They are working tirelessly to pull together a bio-secure plan in Cape Town and Paarl. 

“We owe it to the sport that we do everything we can to keep international competition progressing during this pandemic. 

“Series against the Proteas are always exciting and intense. We saw that earlier this year in South Africa and we can expect the same this time around.” 

Mpitsang appointed convenor of selectors 

Former Proteas fast bowler Victor Mpitsang was the last man standing in a lengthy selection process for a new convenor. CSA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith had the final say in the appointment. 

“The role for the national convenor of selectors is an incredibly important one, which is why the process of appointing the eventual candidate has taken so long,” Smith said. “We needed to be certain that we have left the role in the safest hands possible and Victor’s credentials speak for themselves.  

“He has made it his business to know the ins and outs of cricket after his playing days, from KFC Mini-Cricket, all the way to the senior Proteas men’s and women’s teams. His experience as a coach in our various development programmes means that he has the kind of knowledge and context that was crucial in our chosen candidate.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the role and the stamp that he will put on our national teams and I know he is excited to get down to business as soon as he possibly can.” 

Mpitsang’s cricket playing career included two ODI appearances for the Proteas before injury curtailed his international ambitions. He bounced back and ended his career with 103 first class, 100 List A and 23 T20 matches by the time he retired in 2012. 

The 40-year-old, who hails from Kimberley, has an impressive record of roles that span various areas of the cricket landscape over the last eight years. 

He began as a scout for the schools cricket programme in search of the next few generations of South Africa under-19s (SA U19s) before moving on to become the bowling consultant for the Proteas women. 

He coupled that with a selector position for the South Africa Universities programme and assistant coach of the SA U19s before stepping into the role of selector and eventually convenor of selectors for the same team. 

“It’s an honour to be called up for this role,” Mpitsang said. “For the last eight years since my retirement, I have consciously looked to learn as much as I can about this game and I have put in many hours gaining that knowledge and experience.    

“When you retire from playing you always hope you can stay in and around the game somehow and make a positive contribution in some way, no matter how small. I have been incredibly fortunate to have received the opportunities that I have in the past and to have learned how things work, from admin to playing and coaching. 

“I’m really looking forward to this next chapter and all that it brings. The Proteas teams are a vital part of the cricket ecosystem and there are areas that need our immediate attention.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fagmeedah Petersen-Cook says:

    Nicely done, Minister of Sport. A silver lining in the gloom of COVid19. Let’s hope the administration can keep their eye on thr cricket ball, rather than use this as another opportunity to jockey for power. Fagmeedah Petersen-Cook, former Lead Independent Director of WPCA

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