- Australia may have genuine Covid-19 concerns, but questions linger on whether they would've spurned touring SA if they had a chance of reaching the World Test Championship final.
- Australia lost a four-Test series against India 2-1 after a leading 1-0.
- The tour's postponement means New Zealand's place in the final has been confirmed.
Australia’s postponement of the three-Test tour that was set for later this month, is at best, regrettable.
While Covid-19 remains a serious issue despite the dropping rates in South Africa and Australia’s zero-tolerance approach to dealing with outbreaks, a lingering feeling remains that they would have taken their chances with the tour if they had something to gain from the World Test Championship (WTC).
That they can’t, given their reverse against India gave the series little context and Australia not much reason to come to South Africa.
The travel and the quarantine just aren’t worth the risk if the whitewash isn’t gained.
They only have themselves to blame, along with India’s now famed touring resilience, for losing the four-match Border Gavaskar Trophy series that would have increased their chances of going to the WTC final.
That would have increased the percentage of points earned by Australia to above New Zealand’s current 70 percent that the Black Caps have earned from the 420 points gained from a possible 600.
Australia have 332 points from a possible 480 (69.2 percent), but having cancelled last year’s Bangladesh tour and postponed the SA trip, they denied themselves series' where they could have picked up points.
The points missed in the India series were crucial as they would have been able to cross the 70 percent mark if they clinched the last two Tests.
It’s their own inefficiency with the ball in the Sydney and Brisbane games, along with the four docked points for a tardy over rate that cost them a place in the final and sealed the fate of the South African tour.
Australia’s postponement of the series has all but guaranteed New Zealand a place in the final where they will await the winner of the four-Test England/India series that starts on Friday.
With the wet summer the South African highveld is currently experiencing, it’s questionable whether three full Tests would have been fitted in.
It also could be said a South African team that’s under reconstruction isn’t an aesthetic worth waking up for, even though Australia are in far from rude health, especially in the batting and captaincy department.
Maybe we could have looked back at Cricket South Africa’s 21 January press conference as a forebearer of what was to come with this tour.
Cricket South Africa’s former independent board chairperson retired Justice Zak Yacoob and acting chief executive officer Pholetsi Moseki inability to confirm the tour dates was instructive.
It was two days after Australia spat their 32-year-old dummy at the Gabba that effectively cast their die with regards to the WTC.
Covid-19 and bio-bubble concerns will always exist, especially after England’s antics that led to the cancellation of the ODI series at the end of last year.
However, CSA have provided two examples of excellent bio-secure environment (BSE) work with the Sri Lanka Test series (men’s) and the Pakistan limited overs engagement (women’s).
If the BSE’s integrity was a concern, it's rather unfounded considering CSA’s bounce-back from the England debacle.
Anyway, Thursday’s second Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi will mark the end of SA’s short yet eventful summer on the field.
Off the field, CSA will have to count the cost of missed financial revenue that’ll only be clear later this year.
In a season where nothing has gone right for CSA on and off the field, it's a fitting conclusion to what has been a messy period.
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