South Africa and India have agreed to play three T20Is in South Africa at the end of August, provided government regulations on both sides allow the fixtures to go ahead. The series, which is not part of the Future Tours Programme, was negotiated by Cricket South Africa's director of cricket Graeme Smith and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly during a CSA executive trip to India in February, and finalised via teleconference yesterday as both boards consider ways to get their teams back on the park.
Of course, there remain significant challenges to the series going ahead, with both countries still under lockdown, with their Covid-19 infection rates on an upward curve. South Africa is preparing for a September peak in infection rates, which would make hosting matches in August seem unlikely.
However, hosting is crucial to Cricket South Africa's finances and hosting India would generate significant profits at a time when the board is bracing for big losses. Ahead of the 2019-20 season, CSA was forecasting losses of R654 million (USD 36 million approx) over the next four-year cycle and the South African Cricketers Association put that figure at closer to R1 billion (USD 56 million approx). Although the coronavirus pandemic has not cost South African cricket heavily yet, the long-term projections are grim and an India series would go a long way to putting South African cricket in a more stable financial situation.
If the series does not happen in end August, CSA's acting CEO Jacques Faul said the BCCI expressed "willingness" to play the matches later in the South African summer. From a financial perspective, as long as the matches are played before the end of the financial year, which ends on February 28, 2021, CSA will be able to mitigate some of its projected losses.
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