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Cricket news - England's white-ball tour of South Africa gets government go-ahead

The England squad will depart from London on a chartered flight on November 16.

The England squad will depart from London on a chartered flight on November 16.

Light appeared at the end of South African cricket's dark tunnel on Wednesday, and for once it wasn't an oncoming train. England have been given state clearance to visit the country for six white-ball internationals, a rare nugget of good news in a game that has shambled from one bad day to the next. Not the least of the positives is that the venture will earn up to USD4.3-million for CSA, who face long-term financial hardship.

England will depart on a charter flight - which will reportedly cost the ECB USD490,000 - on November 16 to play three ODIs and as many T20Is from November 27 to December 9. Four of the games will be at Newlands and the others at nearby Paarl. The visitors will also play intra-squad games at both venues. No spectators will be in attendance, and the players and support staff will be kept in a bio-secure bubble to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19.

"This is a first for us and we commit to learn quickly and with great responsiveness as we have an action-packed international season ahead of us," a CSA release quoted Kugandrie Govender, its acting chief executive, as saying. She didn't elaborate, but Sri Lanka are believed to be in negotiations for a Test series in December and January.

South Africa's government gave its blessing for England's trip despite the United Kingdom featuring among 20 countries regarded as too high a risk for contact with the virus to allow their citizens to cross the borders. An ECB release said the authorities had "[granted] exemptions for inbound travel for the England players and management". That will spark speculation about what CSA has promised government in return.

CSA has fought off calls by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee - as directed by Nathi Mthethwa, the minister of sport - for its board to step aside. Parliament has laid into CSA for its reluctance to grant access - belatedly given - to a forensic report on a myriad malaises. Mthethwa has told CSA it has until October 27 to convince him why he shouldn't take action against it that could include the stripping of the Proteas' privilege of calling themselves the national team. That's a lot of smoke. Can there really be no fire?

But the haze is likely to be blown away by the sheer positivity of the fact that cricket-minded South Africans finally have something to look forward to. Their team were last in action on March 7, and until Wednesday's confirmation there was no indication of when they would play again. So South Africa's supporters would doubtless agree with ECB chief executive Tom Harrison's assertion, as quoted, that: "We owe it to the sport that we do everything we can to keep international competition progressing during this pandemic."

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