Young Devon cricketers see South Africa tour called off

Will Popham, Rohan Cross and Julian Hayter are in the Devon Development squad due to tour South Afri

Will Popham, Rohan Cross and Julian Hayter are in the Devon Development squad due to tour South Africa in February. - Credit: Contributed

Devon's up-and-coming young cricketers will not be going to South Africa in February as the two-week development tour has been postponed due to coronavirus complications.

A squad of 14 of Devon’s under-15 age-group players were due to fly out to South Africa during the spring half-term holiday break to play against school and state sides. The tour has provisionally been rearranged for October 2021.

North Devon CC duo Will Popham and Rohan Cross are in the touring party, as is Bideford’s Julian Hayter.

Tour organisers had hoped the coronavirus pandemic would ease sufficiently in time for the trip to go ahead, just as it has done for nearly 20 years.

But Matt Cooke, one of the coaches due to accompany the tourists, said in the light of recent developments an early decision was made to delay the tour.

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“Although no one can foresee exactly what’s coming, the news is not good,” said Cooke.

“What with second waves, third waves, new strains and now travel bans, there was no way we could take the boys out to South Africa in February.

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“As no one seems to be playing in South Africa at the moment, there was no point delaying our decision to go. The tour won’t be cancelled, but re-arranged for later in 2021.”

Ian Hayter, whose son Julian is one of the tourists, said the decision not to go in February was the correct one.

“In the current climate they had no option but to postpone the tour,” said Hayter.

“I need to check with Julian’s school but, hopefully, by next October things will be better for them and safe to travel again.”

Cooke said the Devon Cricket Board always had the autumn half-term break pencilled in as a standby for a delayed tour and that remains the case.

“It will be up to the players and parents if they want to go then and there won’t be any pressure from us,” said Cooke.

“There will be challenges for some going in October, but it is preferable to trying to combine two tours in 2022.

“We did look at waiting until 2022 and sending out the 2021 squad at the same time, but there were too many logistical problems.

“Apart from arranging the extra fixtures there would have been an issue of having enough people to go as coaches and managers.

“Coronavirus permitting the 2022 tour will be back on the normal cycle.”

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