England are scheduled to return to South Africa to fulfil three ODIs they refused to play in November 2020 due to concerns over Covid-19.
But whether those matches now happen is in the balance (despite both boards privately saying they expect it to proceed), with South Africa set to launch its new tournament, including England players like Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone, which may leave little time to hold the series.
When dates were drafted earlier this year, England were due to arrive on January 17, with warm-ups on the 21st and 23rd before playing three ODIs between January 27 and February 1. That schedule seems unworkable now, with the tournament reported to begin on January 23.
If the England series does take place, it would likely need to be pushed earlier in January in order to ensure that South Africa players do not miss the T20 series.
It was also planned that the series would be based in Johannesburg, with matches at The Wanderers and Centurion. But if the series is to go ahead it is likely to take place in Bloemfontein and Kimberley, venues South Africa have not played at since before the pandemic and that do not host teams in the SA20.
South Africa have already pulled out of an ODI series in Australia to accommodate the new tournament. This is slightly different, however, as it is part of their home broadcast deal, meaning broadcasters SuperSport may hold the cards.
The England matches are part of the ODI Super League, but South Africa appear resigned to having to reach next year’s World Cup through the ICC’s Qualifier event, as they are already too far adrift in the Super League.
Equally, there is unlikely to be great desire from England to play the games, which form part of a winter in which they travel to Pakistan (twice), Australia (for a World Cup and bilateral games), New Zealand and Bangladesh.