As is being reported by the BBC, England’s series against South Africa next month is now in serious doubt, with the ECB currently in talks with the West Indies Cricket Board in an attempt to arrange a replacement tour at short notice.
CRICKETher understands that the final, revised fixtures against South Africa were just days away from being formally announced, with all arrangements already in place, when Cricket South Africa communicated to the ECB that they were unlikely to be able to fulfil the fixtures.
The decision by CSA to pull out of the tour is reportedly due to “coronavirus restrictions in South Africa”, but may also be linked to the ICC’s decision – announced last Friday – to postpone the 2021 World Cup by a year, meaning there is more time for sides to organise fixtures ahead of the tournament.
If an agreement with West Indies cannot be reached, it will comes as a bitter disappointment to the England players, who have already spent two weeks in a biosecure training bubble in Derby, unable to participate in county or club fixtures or to leave their hotel when not training.
The likelihood is that should no internationals go ahead, the 24 England squad players will all be released to play for their new regions (yet to be allocated) in the forthcoming Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. It will come as scant consolation but will at least ensure they have the opportunity to participate in some competitive cricket before the season is over.