The famously combative relationship between Australian and South African cricket teams could spill off the field, over the choice of destination for the February Test series.
South African cricket boss Graeme Smith is adamant the series will take place as scheduled in his country, slamming a report which suggested the three Tests could instead be played in Perth.
England last week abandoned their tour of South Africa midway through, after getting spooked by the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak, and Australian players have privately and publicly aired their concerns about travelling there at the end of the home summer.
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South Africa are determined that the series be played on home soil.Source:AFP
Smith declared no discussions had taken place with the Cricket Australia board about shifting the series and remains confident South Africa can safely host the classic rivalry as planned.
Cricket Australia has also maintained that no talks have taken place, but a showdown could loom if Perth is pushed as an alternate venue because Cricket South Africa is firmly standing its ground.
“We are having our first operations meeting with Cricket Australia next week. There has been no communication between Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia either formal or informal,” said Smith.
“We are completely confident that we have the skills and facilities to create an environment suitable for international cricket.”
Cricket Australia have not said anything publicly about hosting the South African series and won’t unless it becomes an active discussion point with CSA.
Western Australian cricket and broadcaster Fox Sports have tentatively supported the suggestion, but at this stage it remains nothing more than an idea.
CA helped relaunch world cricket by touring England in September last year despite huge COVID numbers in the UK, but it remains to be seen whether their medical department will be convinced of the safety of the South African bubble.
South African cricket is currently in crisis and are wary of being taken advantage of on account of how their COVID-19 predicament has been portrayed by England.
South African cricket boss Graeme Smith insists the series won’t be moved.Source:Getty Images
Commentator Michael Vaughan has declared Australia is zero chance of touring South Africa, after some positive results in the Proteas camp and false positives in the England squad resulted in the series being sensationally cancelled midway through.
Australia vice-captain Pat Cummins admitted during the week that players would have reservations about touring – and it’s been well documented that regardless of concerns over bubble safety, Australia’s biggest stars are growing weary of the strains of bubble life.
But South Africa are sensitive to being pushed around, and it’s understood the SA Government is desperate to get sport and tourism up and running again after being hit hard by the pandemic and would push back hard against any move to shift to Perth.
They see a concession to go to Perth and play their own series in Australia as sending a bad message to the world about South Africa.
But by the same token, CSA couldn’t afford to lose the financial benefits of the series if Australia refused to travel, and therefore are in a vulnerable position.
Originally published asWhy South Africa refuse to budge on Aussie tour
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