Cricket: Fans banned from Black Caps ODI series against Australia due to coronavirus concerns

Publish Date
Friday, 13 March 2020, 11:24AM

The Black Caps' ODI series against Australia in Sydney will go ahead - but in empty stadiums.

Cricket Australia made the decision to allow the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy one-day internationals to go ahead as scheduled in Sydney and Hobart, but have banned fans from attending due to coronavirus concerns.

The Herald understands all prospects were discussed at a meeting of players and management overnight as preventative steps are taken to counter the spread of coronavirus. New Zealand Cricket engaged further with its Cricket Australia counterparts this morning, before Cricket Australia decided to hold the matches behind closed doors.

Sydney is hosting the first two ODIs, today and Sunday, while the third and final ODI is in Hobart next Friday.

Cricket Australia confirmed that all fans who purchased public tickets are eligible for a full refund.

"We believe this is the right decision to minimise the risk of public exposure to the coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic on Thursday," said Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts.

A decision is yet to made whether the Black Caps' Twenty20 series against Australia in New Zealand, scheduled for later this month, will go ahead.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson had earlier preached caution about playing sport as the coronavirus spread.

"We've had a number of emails from medical staff back home and the upkeep of good hygiene. It's a concern all around the world and a lot of countries are affected a lot more at the moment, but nobody's exempt and it seems to be travelling the globe so it's something we need to be very cautious of," he said.

"There's a lot of uncertainty going on with large crowds. Obviously it's being taken incredibly seriously, and rightly so."

But with the games to go ahead at this stage, Williamson is hoping the cricketing lessons learned from their last trip to Australia prove profitable in their three-match ODI series.

Williamson was at the helm as the Black Caps were walloped 3-0 in their test series against Australia over the summer, and now faces a similarly difficult challenge, with New Zealand having never won an ODI series in Australia, and winless in all formats since their famous test victory in Hobart in 2011.

This article was originally published by NZ Herald and reproduced here with permission.