South Africa on Friday confirmed two unnamed players have tested positive for the coronavirus and dropped out of the squad ahead of their two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.
Both of them were found infected with the deadly virus in the first round of tests on Wednesday and Thursday before the squad enters into a bio-secure bubble, Cricket South Africa said on Friday.
The squad gathers on Saturday in Centurion, where it will be tested again, to prepare for the first Test starting on December 26.
“CSA confirms that two members of the #Proteas team have returned positive COVID-19 results following their scheduled first round of testing ahead of the team’s entry into the Bio-Secure Environment for the #BetwayTest series against Sri Lanka,” CSA said in an official statement.
“The players will no longer form part of the Test team and will observe the Covid-19 protocols, including isolating with immediate effect.
“CSA’s medical team will monitor them to ensure their health and well-being. CSA can confirm that no other players in the currently named squad were deemed close contacts after contact tracing procedures were conducted.”
Three players were called up by South Africa; top-order batsman Raynard van Tonder and fast bowler Lutho Sipamla for the first time. The other was allrounder Dwaine Pretorius, recovered from a hamstring injury. Star pacer Kagiso Rabada has not been medically cleared to join the squad.
Meanwhile, this is a maiden call-up for van Tonder, while Sipamla will be similarly excited as this is his first inclusion into the Test squad.
“Van Tonder has been exceptional with the bat in this season’s 4-Day Cup. He is the top run-scorer of the competition so far with 604 in five matches at an average of 67.11. The 22-year-old notched up a career-best double ton (261 balls) for the VKB Knights in their fixture against the Imperial Lions just this week. That, coupled with the two centuries and half-century already in his tally for the competition, makes for exciting talent and addition to the national team,” CSA said.
“Pretorius has made great progress from the hamstring injury he picked up last month just before the start of the England tour. He would have completed the last step of the CSA Return to Play protocol by playing in the now postponed round of the 4-Day Cup and will instead work closely with the team’s medical staff and coaches to ensure that he is Test match-ready,” CSA added.
South Africa’s ODI series against England last week was also cancelled after the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic in the home squad and among staff members at the team’s hotel.
Team Sri Lanka will fly to South Africa and then host England for the red-ball clash. The two-match leg against Proteas starts on December 26 in Centurion. The action will then move to Johannesburg for the second and final Test.