South Africa confirms two positive COVID-19 cases before Sri Lanka series

CAPE TOWN, (Reuters) – South Africa has confirmed that two anonymous players tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of their two-match Test series against Sri Lanka that kicks off in Pretoria on Boxing Day, forcing three players to be called up as substitutes.

The positive tests were announced yesterday, a day before the team is to enter a bio-bubble on the Highveld and follow up on a number of incidents in domestic cricket that have sparked terror.

“The players will no longer be part of the test team and will observe COVID-19 protocols, including immediate isolation,” Cricket South Africa said in a statement.

“CSA can also confirm that no other players in the named squad were currently considered to be close associates following contact tracking procedures.”

Selectmen have added uncapped batsman Raynard van Tonder, sailor Lutho Sipamla and round player Dwaine Pretorius to the squad.

Former South African under-19 captain Van Tonder, 22, has been in rich form in the four-day domestic competition, scoring 604 runs at an average of 67.11 this season, including a double hundred this week.

Sipamla has previously been capped in white-ball cricket but earns his first test call, while Pretorius recovered from a hamstring injury that had made him suspicious for the series.

Cricket South Africa postponed the latest set of four-day domestic matches expected to be played December 20-23 after a number of cases were revealed in the previous round of matches, in which some members of the squad played a test.

The positive tests are more of a COVID woe for the country’s cricket team after England canceled a one-day International series earlier this month over concerns about their biosecurity environment.

Sri Lanka have already expressed nervousness over the trip as they host England in a two-silver-spinning home test series that begins just seven days after completing the second test against South Africa.

That second test is taking place in Johannesburg from January 3.