Cricket SA won’t force players to return to training when non-contact sport returns this week

31 May 2020 - 11:10
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Jacques Faul was roped in in December a few days after the suspension of Thabang Moroe.
Image: BackpagePix Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Jacques Faul was roped in in December a few days after the suspension of Thabang Moroe.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Dr Jacques Faul has said that no player will be forced to return to training when non-contact professional sport returns under level three this week.

Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa confirmed on Saturday that non-contact sports such as golf‚ tennis‚ athletics and cricket can resume events behind closed doors at level three starting from Monday.

He also clarified that contact sports such as football and rugby can only resume fitness training but cannot play matches at level three.

“I have already had discussions with the South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) and I would like to stress that no player‚ coach‚ support staff or administrator will be forced to return to training if they are uncomfortable with it at this stage‚” said Faul.

Faul added that Minister’s regulations for the return to training and playing is a big boost for the sport.

“This is a big boost for the operational side of our cricket.

"We have been in regular contact with SRSA and the Minister and they have been very supportive of the game in these difficult times.

“At this stage these regulations apply only to professional cricket and our next step will be to draw up a protocol covering the return to training and playing and submit it to SRSA for approval.

"I will immediately be calling a meeting of our Covid Steering Committee on Monday to get this process under way.

"Both our national teams and our franchises will in due time be given the green light to return to training.”

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux also welcomed the latest developments and said that they have already submitted a proposal to the department on how they are going to ensure safety of players and officials.

“This is the news sport has been waiting to hear as it allows us to begin to ramp up preparations for an eventual return-to-play.

"We submitted a comprehensive‚ staged return-to-play protocols document to the department five weeks ago and we are ready to begin medical screening of players immediately.

“We will seek further clarity from the department on the application of the guidelines as they apply to contact training.

"But this is an opportunity for our players to enhance their lockdown training regimes by increasing their fitness work for an eventual return to play.”

The South African Football Association (Safa) also welcomed Mthethwa’s clarification on the feasibility of resumption for both non-contact and contact sport.

“We welcome the fact that athletes can start training under strict specific conditions.

"Furthermore‚ there are requirements for a thorough monitoring of all athletes to ensure full compliance.

"It is also clear that contact sport like football and rugby among others cannot resume competitively under alert Level 3 from the Minister’s briefing on Saturday‚” said Safa acting chief executive Tebogo Motlanthe.

He added that Safa has always maintained that the health of athletes is of paramount importance and that there will be continuous engagements between the department and different sporting federations.

“Safa welcomes such continued engagements‚ mindful of the negative financial impact Covid-19 has had on sport in general.

"Football‚ rugby and cricket are amongst the major sporting codes that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic‚” Motlanthe concluded.