The change in venue from Cape Town to Johannesburg for the traditional and annual New Year’s Test will only be a once-off occurrence.
Cricket South Africa on Tuesday confirmed the Proteas’ international schedule for the upcoming summer season, featuring a two-match Test series against Sri Lanka over the festive period with the final encounter, the New Year’s Test, taking place at the Wanderers from 3-7 January.
That, of course, deviates from the regular itinerary of touring teams, who usually face the Proteas at Newlands for this specific clash.
But, IOL Sport reports that the Western Province Cricket Association has been told by CSA that the reason for the different venue is purely due to Covid-19 reasons and the fact that both teams will compete in a bio-bubble, which prevents unnecessary long-distance travelling.
‘Covid-19 has had a major impact on all aspects of our lives and cricket scheduling is part and parcel of it,’ said WPCA president Ashraf Burns.
All international tours that have taken place so far since the abrupt pandemic-enforced halting of all cricket in April, were conducted under similar travel plans. This could also be the way tours are scheduled for the foreseeable future to eliminate the risk of infection.
‘WPCA completely understands the reasoning for the New Year Test to be staged in Johannesburg just a few days after the Boxing Day Test in Centurion,’ added Burns.
‘It will limit movement and travelling and that is 100% the right thing to do. WPCA has been assured that the Wanderers hosting the New Year Test this season is simply a once-off due to Covid-19 protocols and that it will be back at Newlands when things return to normal.’
The famous Newlands Cricket Ground will, however, play host to T20I and ODI matches in the upcoming tour of England to South Africa, which will only be held in Cape Town and Paarl.
Australia and Pakistan have also been confirmed to travel to South Africa at the start of next year to face the Proteas in respective Test and limited-overs matches.