South Africa’s preparation for a limited-overs home series against England suffered a jolt with three players placed in isolation after one of them tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Nearly 50 tests were conducted before players and support staff entered their bio-secure base in Cape Town for the series featuring three Twenty20 Internationals followed by an equal number of One-day Internationals.
“One player has returned a positive test result and two players were considered close contacts based on the risk assessment undertaken by the medical team,” Cricket South Africa (CSA) said in a statement. “All three players have been placed in immediate isolation in Cape Town as part of the Covid-19 protocols. While all players are asymptomatic, CSA’s medical team will monitor them to ensure their health and well-being.”
The three were not identified.
South Africa have not named any replacement but two new players will join the group for the inter-squad practice matches on Saturday.
Meanwhile, South Africa are ready to unleash a new, aggressive brand of cricket on England when the teams start the Twenty20 series at Newlands on Nov 27, their head coach Mark Boucher said on Thursday.
Both sides are in quarantine in Cape Town ahead of the tour but are able to train and will play intra-squad games in preparation.
Boucher said his side is using those to work on a new approach he hopes will reverse a slide in fortunes across all three formats for the side.
“We have started afresh and restructured our values,” Boucher told reporters on Thursday. “It is all based on a performance model. Now is the time we can put it to the test, and who better to test us than the [50-over] world champions England.
“I am excited and nervous, but I think that is a good thing. A lot of the players are nervous, too.”
Boucher says the new philosophy is about a change in mindset and a more positive approach to the game.
“We want to be nice and aggressive, that is the way the game is going. You can’t be mavericks either, you need to be smart. We are trying to help the batters and bowlers add shots or varieties of balls to their game to help them develop.”
There are two Twenty20 World Cups in the next two years, first in India in Oct-Nov 2021 and then a year later in Australia.
Boucher would still like to have A.B. de Villiers, who has retired from international cricket, available for those tournaments.
“I have not had a discussion with him since Covid-19. We will see as we get closer to the time of the World Cup. I still believe he is one of the best players in the world.”