England had no justification for abandoning their tour of South Africa, the chairman of Cricket South Africa’s interim board has proclaimed.
Judge Zak Yacoob attacked the tourists’ “negative” attitude after their trip was curtailed because their players were not in a fit state mentally to play the remainder of the matches following an outbreak of coronavirus among both teams.
He also said the hosts had been “too lax with the English and their desire to do things which in our strict view they shouldn’t be doing” – such as playing golf – and warned CSA would defend itself against any “lies” said about its handling of the tour.
Judge Yacoob spoke out after Ashley Giles said it appeared the environment England had been placed in “wasn’t bio-secure” and it emerged their doubts over that began almost as soon as they arrived at their hotel and saw the home players having a barbecue together without observing social distancing.
“What I want to negate is an idea that our provision of services was substandard and that there is any justification for the English saying they did not want to participate and go home,” Judge Yacoob said. “The facts are that ultimately, they were negative. We have gone into our protocols and we think that our protocols have been very good.
“There may have been an issue of psychological troubles. People may have felt nervous about false positives. Our position is that we do not wish to blame the English, but we wish to say absolutely and completely that any notion that they went away because it was in any way our fault, is completely wrong.
“There is an awkward narrative coming out that third-world countries can’t manage these things properly. I can say we have been managing the virus much better than England.”
He added of the abandoned tour: “Many aspects of the operational side are not working and I don’t want to go into details of that because then those in charge of the operational side will start running to the newspapers to say how bad the board is.
“The only criticism I can make, and I am not even authorised to make it, is that we were too lax with the English and their desire to do things which in our strict view they shouldn’t be doing. We were stronger on preventing our players from doing things and we allowed the visitors a little more laxity. There’s a courtesy thing, because they are visitors and so on.
“I don’t think we want an apology from anyone but if they say lies about us, we will defend ourselves. I am prepared to leave it on the basis that we do understand the sensitivities of the matter. We have got this virus for the first time and therefore people can be put off.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board declined to comment.