Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Tuesday slammed its Australian counterpart for postponing a Test tour of the country citing the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it is "extremely" disappointing and will lead to "serious financial loss".
Australia postponed the tour next month owing to "unacceptable health and safety risk" in that country because of a fresh COVID-19 outbreak, a decision that virtually knocks them out of contention from the World Test Championship final later this year.
"We are extremely disappointed by the decision of CA," CSA's director of cricket, Graeme Smith, stated in a press release.
"CSA has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to ensure that we meet every single expectation of CA.
"This was set to be the longest tour in a BSE (bio-safety cabinet or biological safety cabinet) comprising a three-match Test series that was scheduled to begin with Australia's arrival later in the month. So to be informed about the CA decision at the eleventh hour is frustrating."
The Australian team was scheduled to play a three-Test series during the tour.
However, with the host nation battling a second wave of COVID-19 and a new variant of the virus, Cricket Australia's (CA) interim chief executive Nick Hockley said travelling to South Africa is not possible given the current scenario.
The move did not go down well with the South African cricket board.
Pholetsi Moseki, CSA's acting chief executive officer said, "It is indeed sad that after all the engagements and effort made to ensure a secure visit by our Australian counterparts, the tour has been derailed.
"CSA has incurred significant costs related to the planning stages and the cancellation of the tour represents a serious financial loss.
"In this challenging period for cricket and its member countries, we believe the stance taken by CA is regrettable and will have a serious impact on the sustainability of the less wealthy cricket playing nations."
The announcement is a blow to Australia's chances of qualifying for the WTC final, scheduled to be played in June in England. The top two teams in the points table will make the final.Expressing his displeasure in the CSA release, its chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, added that there was nothing more the host board could have done.
"The protocols we had proposed to CA were unprecedented," he stated.
"Firstly, we had agreed that our own Proteas team would enter the BSE 14 days prior to the arrival of the Australian team, thus altering their planning during the current tour of Pakistan," Manjra said.
"Amongst some of the other key arrangements made were that all four areas (two hotels and two venues) had a protocol to implement a strict BSE with no contact with anybody outside this area.
"We subsequently agreed to two separate BSEs and had granted Australia full and exclusive use of the Irene Country Lodge, which we shared with Sri Lanka, with a minimum staff present on site."
This is the second series to be postponed in South Africa due to COVID-19. Last year, England had pulled out of their tour midway through an ODI series after there was an outbreak of cases in the team hotel.
Manjra added, "In terms of the arrangements, the Proteas were to move to a separate hotel altogether. Furthermore, all hotel staff, match officials and even bus drivers were to enter the BSE 14 days prior to Australia's arrival.
"In addition, CSA had also committed to importing an Australian tracking system at great cost to ensure proper tracking of close contacts in the event of a positive test.
Manjara said the touring team was also going to be granted VIP access through the airports, after government intervention to ensure this privilege.
"These are just some of the protocols that CSA was to put in place. We had really gone the extra mile to make sure that the tour would proceed."