CSA reaffirms commitment to provide world-class bio-bubble

Temba Bavuma

Cricket SA (CSA) has reiterated their confidence that a world-class biologically safe environment (BSE), or bio-bubble, will be instituted for the scheduled India tour later this month.

Virat Kohli‘s side are scheduled to play three Tests, the same number of ODIs and four T20s in a tour which has significant financial implications for cricket in the country.

This was after England cancelled their limited-overs tour midway through last year, and Australia’s tour of the country was indefinitely postponed.

However, the discovery of the new Covid-19 variant last week has put the tour in doubt, which is scheduled to start with the first Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on December 17, and end in Paarl on January 26.

During a media brief on Wednesday, CSA spoke of how the Proteas had been in bio-bubbles across the world and they have the capability to ensure the same standards are applied.

Since international cricket returned after the initial Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020, the South Africans have been in BSEs in home tours against England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Netherlands, as well as away to Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland, Sri Lanka and the T20 World Cup in the United Arad Emirates and Oman.

World-class standards and measures

“CSA has instituted world-class standards and measures to ensure all players, staff and officials are protected within this environment,” said CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra.

“Our main focus was to safeguard the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside 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.”

Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar and his limited-overs counterpart Temba Bavuma reiterated this stance, saying how CSA should be commended for their efforts, while speaking of the difficulties of living within a BSE.

“It’s hard to believe 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 this is a necessity if we want to continue playing cricket,” Elgar said.

“It takes a toll on a player mentally and yet this team continues to produce good results and make progress. That’s something I don’t think is being spoken about enough.

Bubble life takes its toll

“The measures put in place and the hotels 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.”

Bavuma said: “Playing cricket in a BSE was a massive challenge for everyone involved in the game.

“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.

“CSA has to be commended for the way they have gone about the BSEs.

“It hasn’t been an easy year for us all. 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 our BSEs are of the highest safety standards and the protocols are set with everyone’s physical well-being and mental health in mind.”