England are poised to discover whether the first tour of their currently uncertain winter will receive the green light from the South African government.
Eoin Morgan’s white-ball side is down to play three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches against South Africa next month – once again behind closed doors because of the pandemic – but confirmation of the trip is yet to materialise.
However, according to a report by South Africa’s Independent Online, a decision by the Ministry of Sport could be due on Tuesday, with plans for the short tour from mid-November onwards submitted last month by Cricket South Africa.
Worth an estimated £3.2m to the hosts, and with the ODIs counting towards World Cup qualification, the trip would involve England staying in one Cape Town hotel for the duration and commuting to matches at Newlands and Paarl’s Boland Park.
After a summer in which five international teams travelled to the UK, the England and Wales Cricket Board is looking to do its bit this winter and it is understood an offer has been made to ship over unused PPE and testing apparatus to help ease the burden on Cricket South Africa.
There is less clarity regarding England’s proposed two-Test series against Sri Lanka after Christmas, however, amid concerns over the mandated 14-day quarantine period for visitors from overseas. Bangladesh withdrew from a series this month because of the lack of a waiver – the players would have been forced to spend a fortnight isolating in hotel rooms before they could train – and Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, has suggested this would similarly reduce the chances of England visiting.
The hope remains that England will be able to both serve their quarantine period and still prepare for the series at a more remote location such as Dambulla, with Mickey Arthur, the Sri Lanka head coach, optimistic about the prospects.
Arthur said: “We need to get cricket back up and running otherwise we may as well shut the whole thing down and wait for a vaccine.
“I’m really positive. I’m hoping we can fulfil our fixtures in South Africa come December and then have England over here to start a really busy 2021. Here in Sri Lanka there is a strong drive to get the game going, from the CEO to the president, everyone shares the sentiment.”
After Sri Lanka, England are due to play India in both Test and white-ball cricket, with the United Arab Emirates mooted as a possible host country.