With a $100 million at stake, Cricket South Africa are pulling out all the stops to ensure India tour takes place
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Cape Town - Cricket SA are pulling out all the stops - as you do when $100 million is at stake - to ensure India's proposed tour to South Africa goes ahead.
CSA have provided all the health and safety assurances that their bio-secure environments are as safe as any in the world. They also have the support of national government - the same organization that just a few months ago were threatening to take the game out of their hands - that they can adequately host Rahul David's team without the players and staff at risk.
Chartered planes are part of the planning with inter-provincial travel also limited to the bare minimum as single venues could play host to a number of matches in order to safeguard the bio-secure environments.
At this stage - although this could change within minutes let alone hours and days - the signs are promising that the tour will commence with the BCCI basically waiting for approval from its national government to undertake the tour.
With India "A" currently in South Africa and also opting to complete their current tour, the BCCI are able to call on first-hand experience of matters on the ground in South Africa in relation to the Covid-19 Omicron variant.
The tour would also be the 30th anniversary of India's first tour to South Africa in 1992 with a special banquet set to be held in Cape Town on January 2.
However, having recently been to the T20 World Cup in the UAE, I was reminded by my global colleagues that "there is always a story behind the story"
It is therefore that I personally feel that "player power" should not be underestimated in these matters. England's curtailing of the ODI leg of their tour to South Africa last year on the basis of guidance from their Professional Cricketers Association is a case in point.
Perhaps its a bit naive of me to think that Virat Kohli has more power than Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi during a global pandemic, but I have little doubt that Kohli and his Test team in particular will be eager to board the chartered plane for Africa.
India's current Test unit is arguably their strongest in its history. They are no longer solely home ground bullies - rubberstamped by their successive Test series wins Down Under over Australia.
The second was particularly impressive as it was completed with a virtual second string team in Kohli's absence.
However, the glaring omission on India and Kohli’s mantelpiece is a Test series win in South Africa. No Indian team has managed it since Mohammad Azharuddin's charges arrived here in 1992.
They came agonizingly close on the last tour in 2018 when they lost a hard-fought series 2-1.
A Test series victory in South Africa would immortalise Kohli's legacy in Indian cricket folklore.
It is something he craves more than anything else particularly after failing to bring home any ICC limited-overs silverware during his tenure as India ODI and T20 captain.
With the Proteas Test side still also very much in a transition phase after the retirements of world-class players such as Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander and AB de Villiers, who was particularly influential in the last series, Kohli would certainly be viewing this as a prime opportunity to go trophy hunting in Africa.
We will wait with bated breath to see whether the tour will be approved, but I can assure you there will be no objections from the Indian players - least of all Virat Kohli.