May 22, 2022

A tour in India puts R700m at stake for financially fragile people …

The only certainty in world sport today is its uncertainty. Covid-19 and its multiple variants – Beta, Delta and now Omicron – have torn up calendars and led to 21 months of crisis management in sports that reshaped the global landscape.

In South Africa, Covid has derailed major tours and events and forced administrators to find solutions to problems they could never have considered. Some have been more successful than others in weathering a pandemic that shows no signs of abating.

For Cricket South Africa (CSA), this summer’s Indian tour of the country simply has to take place. It could, literally, be decisive for the sport.

A well-placed source has revealed that the 10-match Indian tour, comprising three tests, three one-day internationals (ODI) and four T20Is, is worth R700 million to CSA.

India celebrate after the third T20 International against New Zealand at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 21, 2021. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Globally, cricket’s financial pie is broken down into four-year release cycles for each of the major test countries, and within that cycle a visit to India is most essential.

Host unions earn most of the broadcast rights, sponsorship and entry revenue from home tours. No team demands higher broadcast and sponsorship fees than India, while door holds are minimal in a Covid world.

As the richest and most watched team in the world of cricket, and quite possibly in any sport given India’s passion for cricket and the size of the population, the Indian men’s team is the lifeline of sport.

Recently England cut its South Africa tour short, costing CSA around R30 million in revenue, though it cannot be completed in the current cycle.

Australia’s decision to withdraw from their South Africa tour earlier this year has also put a strain on the schedule as they have committed to a tour “at a later date.” No firm decision has been made on the reprogramming of this series of white balls either and if it does not happen within the next 18 months, CSA would lose another 40 million Rand.

Rohit Sharma of India during the third T20 International vs New Zealand at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on November 21, 2021 (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Tours to England and Australia are good sources of income, but are rubbish compared to a home series against India.

CSA, after announcing a loss of 221 million rand for fiscal year 2020/21 due to Covid and their own corporate governance failures that saw sponsors flee, the tour of India represents a means of ” balance the books.

The annual report also said that CSA had cut spending from R12 billion to R700 million and had cash reserves of R121 million and investments that would “fall due” shortly. bringing the reserves to 363 million rand.

It sounds impressive, but given that cash reserves exceeded one billion rand five years ago, the organization clearly doesn’t have much financial leeway. Expenses have greatly exceeded income in recent years.

There are still 18 months left in the current broadcast cycle and India is due to tour South Africa somewhere during that time. December 2021 and January 2022 have been booked as a window for the tour, but Omicron may force it to close.

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock in action during an ICC Champions match against India at The Oval in London on June 11, 2017 (Photo: Clive Rose / Getty Images)

That would set a clock to zero for CSA as they would kind of have to reschedule the tour before the current release cycle ends to meet their revenue projections for the four-year cycle.

Tours and meetups are locked in years in advance and rescheduling a seven week India tour is not easy, especially as India and Proteas schedules are already busy in 2022. .

Quite simply, if the 2021/22 tour in India is canceled in the coming weeks, the ASC could find itself in a financial hole that could bring the sport to the professional level in this country to collapse.

Diplomatic alignment

So it’s a relief that the Cricket Control Board of India (BCCI) is still making the right noise about the tour. In addition, the governments of South Africa and India appear to be aligning their efforts to maintain contact between countries, despite the closure of many parts of the world to southern Africa following the detection. of the Omicron variant.

India A are currently involved in a three-game series against South Africa A in Bloemfontein. BCCI did not withdraw the South Africa team when the Omicron news emerged.

South Africa will take all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of Indian teams,” said a statement from the South African Ministry of International Relations.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis plays a shot on matchday four of the second test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in Pune on October 13, 2019 (Photo: Isuru Sameera Peris / Gallo Images)

“A fully bio-secure environment will be established around the A teams from South Africa and India as well as the two national teams.

“The Indian National Team Tour marks the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s readmission to international cricket. In 1991, India became the first country to host South Africa after South Africa was banned from international cricket in 1970 by the International Cricket Council (ICC), following a resolution taken against the apartheid policy of the South African government of the day.

“The anniversary will be celebrated with a commemorative event that will take place on January 2, 2022 in Cape Town. This event will also serve to underline the strong links between South Africa and India, as evidenced once again by the tour of the two Indian teams.

“India’s decision to show solidarity by choosing to continue the Indian Team A tour contrasts with a number of countries which decided to close their borders and restrict travel from southern Africa after South Africa has announced the detection of the new Omicron variant.

“The South African government has expressed its gratitude to the BCCI for allowing the tour to continue and for not letting the travel restrictions negatively impact international sports.”

Players are ready for a more bio-bubble life

As noted in the statement, the emergence of Omicron means that the relatively relaxed lifestyle of the past few months will give way to harsh bio-secure environments (BSEs) to ensure the continuation of the tour.

Proteas players are no strangers to BSE, but the mental work of being isolated is important. India has also suffered numerous BSEs in the past 18 months and will need to prepare for another.

A recent study on cricketers in India, undertaken by the Government Institute for Medical Sciences and Research, Srinagar, Uttarakhand noted: “Players have to spend a long time away from their families. Additionally, during the pre-competition quarantine phase, players are limited to their hotel room only.

“This can have a detrimental effect on the health of the players as they have to spend a lot of time alone, which can lead to soul-searching and rumination consisting of constant negative feelings.

“Players are susceptible to a variety of mental health issues including mental fatigue, depression, anxiety or insomnia.

“In most cases there will be no signs in the athlete on general physical examination and the diagnosis should be made on the basis of the presence of various symptoms including feeling weak, sleep disturbances , anxiety, a change in eating habits and a lack of motivation.

“Mental health issues require prompt identification and treatment because not only can they affect a player’s performance on the pitch, but they can also have a negative impact on their physical health and personal life.”

The Proteas men’s team have been part of a total of eight international cricket ESBs – these range from home tours against England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and most recently the Netherlands, to tours to the Netherlands. outside Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland, Sri Lanka and ICC. T20 World Cup in United Arab Emirates and Oman.

According to CSA Chief Medical Officer Dr Shuaib Manjra: “The CSA has instituted world-class standards and measures to ensure that all players, staff and officials are protected in this environment. Our main goal was to protect the cricket biosphere by managing strict entry standards and limited movement outside its cordon.

Manjra stressed that BSE has met the highest standards set by the government and CSA continually seeks to ensure that the management of BSE is second to none in the world.

“Playing cricket in an ESB was a huge challenge for everyone involved in the game,” said Proteas white ball captain Temba Bavuma.

“Everything has changed, from the length of our stays in hotels to the way we train and play. We weren’t even allowed to wave or kiss each other when we were celebrating the wickets – this part was easier to remember for some than for others.

Mayank Agarwal of India looks on for the ball after playing a stroke on day one of the second test against South Africa at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in Pune on October 10, 2019 (Photo: Isuru Sameera Peris / Gallo Images)

“The CSA is to be commended for the way it has dealt with BSE. It has not been an easy year for all of us. Being confined to a hotel room and not being able to leave the hotel and having a choice – in most places away from home – between your room and the team room and little access to the outside The hotel is wreaking havoc, especially for the all-format game team members and management.

“I am convinced that our BSEs meet the highest safety standards and that protocols are established not only with individual physical well-being in mind, but mental health as well. “

Proteas Test skipper Dean Elgar added: “It is hard to believe that we have been working in these BSE conditions for a year now, but anyone who has been affected, directly or indirectly, by the Covid-19 virus knows that ‘it is a necessity if we are to continue playing cricket.

“It takes its toll on a player mentally and yet this team continues to produce good results and progress – this is something that I personally think is not talked about enough.

“The measures that have been put in place and the hotels that have been chosen take into account the physical and mental health needs of the teams. We don’t know how long we’ll continue to operate like this, but it’s gratifying to know that when tours arrive, the health and safety of everyone involved is top priority. DM