Clouds may be gathering over India's tour of South Africa 2021-22 due to Omicron, the new variant of the coronavirus, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India is in no mood to cancel the series. India's tour of South Africa starts with a Test match in Johannesburg on December 17 but the Indians are expected to fly out at least a week in advance. (More Cricket News)
India will play a full series in South Africa. Three Tests, three ODIs and four T20 international will constitute a mouth-watering series that will end in Paarl on January 26, 2022.
An indication of BCCI's frame mind can be gauged from the fact that the Indian A team, currently playing a series of four-day matches in Bloemfontein, is not being recalled and will continue to remain in South Africa, in spite of the threat from Omicron.
The second South Africa A vs India A match is starting on Tuesday. The first match had ended in a draw.
Pertinently, the ICC has cancelled the Women's ODI World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe, the Netherlands have stopped their ODI tour in South Africa and the FIH has called off the junior hockey World Cup for women.
Six women cricketers of the Sri Lankan team playing in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe have contracted COVID, but the BCCI is unmoved.
"The team is in a bio-secure environment and only moving from hotel to ground and back. There is no reason why the Indian A team should be called back where they are in a safe environment," said Arun Singh Dhumal, a senior BCCI functionary.
Dhumal said "We (BCCI) are in close contact with Cricket South Africa and we are convinced that the (India A ) players are safe and can play the remainder of the matches (against South Africa A)."
The BCCI has not received any direction from the government to recall the team or cancel the upcoming series in South Africa, said Dhumal, who whose brother Anurag Thakur is India's sports minister.
"If the government passes a directive to ban overseas travel, we will take a decision accordingly. So far, the tour is on and given the fact that the matches will be played in two or three cities, it should not be difficult to manage a bio secure environment," said Dhumal.
It is a practice to obtain permission from the government before a national team to travel overseas. The sports minister had recently said that no tours must be played without the government's explicit green signal.
"We will follow whatever the government says," said Dhumal, aware that travel restrictions to South Africa are growing everyday in the wake of the Omicron strain.
It may be recalled that in September this year, India had withdrawn from playing the fifth and final Test against England in Manchester due to a COVID scare in their camp. Most players took private flights to quickly exit UK and reach UAE to participate in the IPL.