Coronavirus: England’s ODI series against South Africa to go ahead after Proteas negative tests

England’s three-match ODI series against South Africa will now start on Sunday, following a negative round of coronavirus tests in the Proteas camp.

The first One Day International between England and South Africa that was scheduled to take place on Friday was initially postponed, but the series will now get underway on Sunday in Paarl after the Proteas’ latest coronavirus tests all came back negative.

The first ODI was postponed barely an hour before play was due to start at Newlands and any further cases would have likely led to the tour’s abrupt end, but Cricket South Africa announced on Saturday morning that the emergency screening which took place at the shared team hotel in Cape Town had shown no spread of the virus in their camp.

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After Sunday’s opener, the series continues with a double-header back at Newlands on Monday and Wednesday.

A brief statement confirming the news read: “Cricket South Africa (CSA) is pleased to announce that the entire Proteas team has returned negative results from the Covid-19 tests that were conducted yesterday evening in Cape Town ahead of the three-match, Betway One-Day International (ODI) series against England.

“The series opener will get underway as scheduled at Eurolux Boland Park on Sunday at 1000.”

In the event of further positive tests, England would have been forced to make a decision on whether or not to proceed, with managing director of men’s cricket Ashley Giles on site with the squad and chief executive Tom Harrison standing by at home.

It seems highly unlikely they would have agreed to stay, particularly given concerns over the integrity of the bio-secure bubble, meaning an early exit from the second overseas tour in a row.

England departed Sri Lanka in March ahead of a two-Test series due to concerns over the pandemic.

Malan sets record high T20I rating

Earlier this week, England batsman Dawid Malan set a new record high rating in the International Cricket Council’s Twenty20 ratings system.

Malan went to number one in the world in September as reward for a relentlessly consistent period of scoring in the format and has followed up with a player-of-the-series performance in England’s 3-0 clean sweep of South Africa.

Australia’s Aaron Finch held the previous record with exactly 900 points and he remains third on the updated list, behind second-placed Babar Azam of Pakistan.

England skipper Eoin Morgan is the next highest in the table, joint 10th with India’s Rohit Sharma.

Despite England also sitting top of the team rankings, Adil Rashid remains their only representative in upper echelons of the bowling ranks, up three places to fourth after three consistently excellent outings against the Proteas.

More to come from ‘exceptionally strong’ England

Following their comprehensive series whitewash over South Africa, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton believe there is still more to come from Eoin Morgan’s men in white-ball cricket.

Morgan’s side also occupy top spot in the ODI world rankings, and with the T20 World Cup on the horizon, Hussain insists England are nowhere near the finished article – an ominous prospect for their challengers.

“They have had to work hard for their wins and they have had bad periods in the games which they have had to react to,” he told Sky Sports.

“In the last game with the batting – they weren’t quite going to plan and then Malan goes through the gears and Morgan finishes it off.

“Here today with the ball, Morgan will be critical of them. They didn’t quite get it right, they were getting a bit too full towards the end. They didn’t nail their yorkers, they bowled a lot in the slot.

“There’s still plenty to work with – they are far away from being the finished article, but there is so much to work with. It is a great position to be in if you keep winning – then you can work from that position of strength.”

Atherton highlighted the embarrassment of riches Morgan has at his disposal in the two shorter formats of the game.

“Morgan wants to play his strongest team in T20, but that’s a measure of the strength of England’s white-ball cricket,” Atherton said.

“The fact that Root can’t get in T20 cricket, and Malan cannot get in 50-over cricket – they are exceptionally strong at the moment. It’s a great place to be in.”

Watch the first match of the series between South Africa and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 7.30am on Sunday.

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