Chattogram, Nov 28 (IANS): Vernon Philander, the former South Africa quick who is a bowling consultant with the Pakistan team currently on tour in Bangladesh, will leave the squad bubble here and fly back to his home country as early as Monday, the fourth day of the ongoing first Test match, due to the worsening flight operations in view of the new Covid variant.
Philander was scheduled to leave for South Africa at the end of the first of two Tests, but, as a PCB media statement said at the end of the third day's play on Sunday, he has had to change his plans because of the evolving Covid-19 situation, an Espncricinfo report said.
The new Covid-19 variant, called Omicron has already disrupted the cricket schedule in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and could impact it further in the coming days.
The Netherlands tour to the country had to be abandoned after the boards mutually ruled in favour of player safety. In nearby Zimbabwe, the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021, the nine-team tournament which was set to decide the three teams for the 2022 Women's World Cup in New Zealand, had to be called off owing to fresh travel restrictions.
An India A team is currently on tour in South Africa, and that series is going to continue as planned because India has so far not imposed any restrictions on travel to and from southern Africa.
The senior Indian men's side is also scheduled to travel to South Africa early next month for a series of three Tests, three ODIs, and four T20Is, and the status of that tour is also, for the moment, unchanged. But if the borders close between now and December 8-9, when the Indians are expected to fly out, the prospect of the tour taking place will be severely diminished.
South Africa is currently reporting around 2000 new cases a day, but there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter regulations are due to be introduced soon.