In his latest Sky Sports column, Jos Buttler discusses bio-secure bubbles, the circumstances around England’s postponed ODI series in South Africa and why he is looking forward to a cold Christmas at home…
It has obviously been a strange few days for everyone with the one-day series in South Africa being postponed.
As cricketers, it’s just frustrating really. We want to focus on playing cricket and everyone was very excited about the ODI series, having played some good cricket in the T20s so it’s been a big shame for everyone involved on both sides and all the administrators that we didn’t get any cricket.
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With the news of two positive Covid tests and two staff, one who worked closely with our side of the bubble, testing positive as well, there was lots of nervousness and anxiety around coronavirus – and cricket became the last thing on anyone’s mind.
We’ve been brilliantly looked after throughout though and it’s been fantastic to have Ashley Giles out here with us, really leading everything. Together with Chris Silverwood and Eoin Morgan, they have been great at looking after the players.
As I say, it’s been a strange week and the one overriding feeling I have is just of sadness and disappointment that we’re not playing any cricket.
We had a round of tests on Thursday and we were actually on our way to the ground on Friday morning, expecting to play. But the bus didn’t pull into the ground and we were all wondering what had happened. We came back to the hotel and were told that one of the South African players had tested positive, the game had been called off and we were going to do some more tests.
Then on Sunday we found out about the hotel staff testing positive and we got the two unconfirmed positives in our group.
Throughout the time we were in South Africa, everyone was practising social distancing on our side, wearing masks and there was lots of outdoor space too, so we’ve been outside loads and following all the guidelines.
When it became clear that there could be some risk though, there were some meetings on Zoom and players were able to talk about how they were feeling about the situation. I think from just thinking about cricket and enjoying it as best we could, to suddenly having games called off and positives tests, there was a lot of anxiety.
After those meetings, it was not a case of the players saying they didn’t want to play or didn’t feel safe as far as I’m aware. There have obviously been a lot of discussions between the boards, Morgs will have chatted to Ashley Giles and Tom Harrison but I think the decision was made above our heads.
Personally, I didn’t see anything that concerned me about the safety of the bubble. From day one, the situation changed with a positive test in the first round of tests for the South Africans and that player having been in the bubble. So straightaway we were quite distant from the South African team.
There’s no one else in the hotel, we’ve been living in one side and they’ve been in the other. From what I’ve seen, it’s been fine. The staff have looked after us so well, they all follow the guidance and are wearing their visors, gloves and masks, they’ve looked after us and accommodated us brilliantly.
But obviously there are a lot of anxious thoughts when you think you’re in a bio-secure environment yet somehow Covid has got in, maybe that made people worried.
A lot of people will probably learn lots from this, especially us as England players and the ECB. It shows what an amazing job everyone did in England and how thankful we are to the opposition teams that came over.
It was very strict but there were no positive tests at all, no false positives and I think there were about 1,200 tests over the summer so as a player you get more relaxed.
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The circumstances are incredibly different to what we’re used to and I think this probably just shows that you can never take all the risk out of it, it is very hard to create a true bio-secure environment as such.
Getting the news that re-examined tests were negative was a huge relief for everyone, especially for those two guys who had had those false-positive tests. No doubt there were a lot of worries and anxieties, having to go and self-isolate.
So it’s been a big relief, especially so close to travelling home because the implications of positive tests would be quite big really and quite challenging so it was obviously good news for everyone involved.
On the field, I think we can take a lot from the tour as a T20 group. It was fantastic for us to have a full-strength squad all together with everyone pushing to make that team. It’s great to have that competition for places and to see guys really stand up and take those chances.
Again, Dawid Malan has shown us all how well he’s playing and how much he grasps every opportunity he’s given. It was just great to be back as a team with everyone available and really building something, role clarity and so on ahead of the next World Cup.
For now, I’m really excited to be back home with the family, it’ll be the first Christmas I’ve spent in England for three or four years so I’m looking forward to being at home and, in a strange way, looking forward to the cold and all the Christmas traditions.
It’s not quite like normal with tiered lockdowns etcetera but it will be very nice to be back with family over the festive period – then we’ll be back to it in Sri Lanka and India in the New Year!
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