The England tour of South Africa became the first bilateral series to be suspended after the resumption of cricket in July. Multiple Covid-19 cases saw the two boards decide to call off the series on medical grounds and now, England’s director of cricket, Ashley Giles, has opined on what went wrong.
Concerns over players’ security and health were raised alongside questions over Cricket South Africa’s bio-secure bubble that didn’t seem robust enough to keep the virus at bay. It all started to take a toll on the mental well-being of the players who have been living in bubbles for the past 8-9 months.
“It came down to well-being,” Giles said. “I don’t think it’s the last three weeks, it could be the last eight or nine months. These guys have been living in bubbles for long periods and their mental health is the absolute priority for us. Clearly, this was a situation for all of us in the bubble. Not just players but management and the South African players and management.”
The managements tried to alter schedules a little with hopes of the positive covid-19 tests returning negative in subsequent tests but the anxious state of matter within the teams meant that the players were never really in the fit state of mind that could see them continue.
“We felt trying to squeeze two games into two days here when this had been going on in the background was going to be particularly difficult and we’re better off calling it and looking to re-arrange these fixtures at a better time.”
In the end, the bio-secure bubble didn’t give the England cricket team the sort of sense of security that they would’ve wanted. As per a report in Cricbuzz, the short isolation period of the members of the South Africa team that were in close contact with Covid-positive people surprised the England Cricket Board.
“We were coming into a bio-secure environment and from very early on it appeared it wasn’t bio-secure,” Giles said. “That raised the levels of anxiety. I think the South African doctor said he could understand our nervousness because of that. And he was right. There’s clearly concern when infection springs up in what is supposed to be a bio-secure environment.”