Chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra says Cricket South Africa’s bio-secure environment (BSE) has met the highest standards set by national government.
The Proteas have been part of eight international cricket BSEs, ranging from home series against England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and, most recently, the Netherlands, to away tours to Pakistan, the West Indies, Ireland, Sri Lanka, and the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.
CSA believes it will be able to safely host India over the next two months in a similar BSE despite the recent identification of a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron.
The first Test between the Proteas and India is scheduled to start at the Wanderers on 17 December.
“CSA has instituted world-class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment,” said Manjra in a statement on Wednesday. “Our main focus was to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside of its cordon.
“What we have implemented at our BSE is a cordon sanitaire, which offers full and continuous protection to all individuals who respect and abide by our very demanding guidelines and rules.”
In the same news release, Proteas ODI and T20I captain Temba Bavuma said playing cricket in a BSE had been “a massive challenge for everyone involved in the game” and that “CSA has to be commended for the way that they have gone about the BSEs”.
“Everything changed, from the length of our stays in hotels, to how we train and play. We weren’t even allowed to high-five or hug each other when we celebrated wickets – that part was easier to remember for some, more than others,” Bavuma said with a chuckle.
“It hasn’t been an easy year for us all,” he added. “Being confined to a hotel room and being restricted from leaving the hotel and having the choice – in most places away from home – between your room and the team room and little access outside the hotel takes its toll, particularly for the all-format playing members of the team and management.
“I’m confident that our BSEs are of the highest safety standards and the protocols are set not only with everyone’s physical well-being, but mental health in mind.”
Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar echoed Bavuma’s sentiments.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been working in these BSE conditions for a year now, but anyone who has been affected, either directly or indirectly by the Covid-19 virus, knows that this is a necessity if we want to continue playing cricket.
“It takes a toll on a player mentally and yet this team continues to produce good results and make progress – that’s something that I personally don’t think is being spoken about enough.
“The measures that have been put in place and the hotels have been chosen take into account the teams’ physical and mental health needs. We don’t know how much longer we’ll be operating like this, but it’s gratifying to know that when tours come around the health and safety of all involved is top priority.”