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Suspicion is growing that Australian coach Justin Langer, Pat Cummins and Tim Payne will tour South Africa amid Covid-19.
Ken Williamson and his cricketers made sure to participate in the World Test Championship final in the UK in June after the three-Test Australian Cricket Tour was postponed in South Africa on Tuesday.
Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said the Covid-19 situation in South Africa, which has been struck by a second wave and a new variant of the virus, “poses an unacceptable level of health and safety risks for our players, support staff and the community”.
Australia needed to win two Tests in South Africa and prevent its hosts from winning one, to secure its place in the inaugural WTC session, scheduled for June 18-22 in Lourdes or Southampton Rose Bowl.
But now they cannot pass New Zealand, which seems destined to face India in decisiveness, unless the latter collapses spectacularly against England in the next series of four tests in India.
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After winning 2-0 at home in the West Indies and Pakistan, New Zealand has moved up to 70 per cent of total points disputed under a revised scoring system amid the pandemic.
After losing to India in Brisbane, Australia ranked third with 69.2 per cent while India leads with 71.7 per cent. Australia dropped points due to slowness on averages that proved crucial in the final total.
New Zealand’s WTC schedule is complete, and they cannot slide below 70 per cent, but India could take a defeat against England in the series of four Tests that begins this weekend.
New Zealand is set to play two tests in England before the World Tennis Championships final, in Lords and Edgbaston in the first two weeks of June.
Earlier Tuesday, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported that the tour was in “serious trouble” due to safety barriers.
The Telegraph said Cricket Australia has not abandoned the proposed round between Centurion and Johannesburg with auditions on March 3, March 12 and March 21.
But she continued, “Hmm [CA] You have to be satisfied with the biosecurity measures introduced by Cricket South Africa, and there are also logistical complications associated with returning the team to Australia after the series ends.
“The tours contradict government travel and safety advice, and there are concerns about what, in the worst case scenario, could happen to an Australian player becoming ill.
“Will this person be able to return to Australia? Will the whole team have to wait for the results to turn negative?”
The Australian Selectors picked two teams last week, One for South Africa and a Twenty20 team to play the Black Caps in five matches starting in Christchurch on February 22.
Captain Aaron Finch and his second team are set to travel to New Zealand on Sunday to begin their 14 days of managed isolation.
The cancellation in South Africa could also mean some test stars are boosting Australia’s ranks in New Zealand’s T20 series.