Cricket Australia's interim chief executive officer Nick Hockley says they explored every possible option, including offering to host South Africa for a Test series, after postponing a tour of that country due to a fresh outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
CA said on Tuesday it was forced to postpone the tour starting next month owing to “unacceptable health and safety risk” in South Africa because of the pandemic, a decision that virtually knocked them out of contention from the World Test Championship final later this year.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) expressed its “extreme disappointment” over the postponement, forcing Hockley to come out in CA's defence.
“We did offer to host the series here but Cricket South Africa made that very clear that they've got lots of other commitments and quarantine periods and the like that wasn't feasible,” Hockley was quoted as saying in Australian media.
“We'll work through over the coming weeks and months when we may be able to reschedule the series.
“Certainly we made the formal offer to host. Cricket South Africa, and we respect it entirely, made their position very, very clear.
“We worked as hard as we could to try and make it happen but it came to a point where people would have to do pre-departure protocols and enter bio-secure environments in preparation (to travel). We gave ourselves every shot and couldn't have left it any later.”
The move dashed Australia's chances of qualifying for the WTC final, scheduled to be played in June in England. The top two teams in the points table will make the summit-clash.
“What happened during the process is really two things. South Africa very sadly have hit the peak of their second wave, and then secondly we've got the more virulent strain, which there's still lots of unknowns around.
“So as we've worked through the residual risk and also some questions and challenges around if we were to get a case how and when we can get our players back home, taking advice from medical experts and putting health and safety absolutely No. 1, we were really left with no option,” Hockley said.
Insisting that they were fully aware of the consequences of the postponement, Hockley said the decision was taken in the best interest of the travelling players and support staff.
“We all knew the rules going in and I think that's what's made this decision really, really hard.
“We've done everything we possibly can to make the tour go ahead but in the end, we had to listen to the overwhelming medical advice, so we won't be pursuing that with the ICC, but it's just another reason why not being able to tour is so disappointing,” he said.
“We've spoken to the players' association at length, I've spoken to the coach... the players are disappointed, they want to play cricket, they want to appear in the World Test Championship, they want to play Test cricket, they want to get back on the horse after this recent India series,” Hockley added.