A fan attends the Dharamsala ODI in a mask © AFP
Cricket around the world continues to be impacted by coronavirus, now labelled as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Here’s a running timeline of all the major and minor developments relating to cricket:
THURSDAY, MARCH 12
BCCI confirms closed-door cricket for Lucknow and Kolkata
The final two India-SA ODIs will be played without spectators in the stadium. This comes after an advisory from the Indian government earlier in the day, asking unavoidable sports events to go on without large public gatherings. A call on the IPL, that starts March 29, is still awaited.
England to go ahead with Sri Lanka tour as planned
The England and Wales Cricket Board, on Thursday (March 12), stated the men’s team’s tour to Sri Lanka will go ahead as planned for now. A release by the ECB stated, “but we want to stress that this is a highly evolving situation and circumstances are changing rapidly, sometimes several times a day.”
”We are in regular contact with the Sri Lankan and British High Commissions in addition to Sri Lanka Cricket around the Sri Lanka v England Test matches, scheduled in the next few weeks,” it further added. “We urge fans who are considering travelling to consult with the current British and Sri Lankan Government advice, to continue to do this up until the point of travel and also for the duration of their trip.”
Road Safety World Series T20 rescheduled
“In the interest of the public & players’ safety & security, & in line with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advisories by the Government, the Unacademy Road Safety World Series has been rescheduled. The new dates will be announced later,” the release said.
Australia’s women’s tour of South Africa has been called off due to Coronavirus concerns, Cricbuzz has learnt. The Aussies were to have played three ODIs and three T20s in the country between March 22 and April 4.
SA players mull IPL participation
Nine South Africans are to play in this year’s edition. Three of them – David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada – are with the South Africa squad in India. Were they rethinking their participation? “They haven’t expressed any sentiments of that nature to us yet,” the team’s media manager told Cricbuzz on Thursday. But it seems the decision will not be the players’ to make on their own, argues Telford Vice. “For the players it’s not a big issue at all,” Jacques Faul, Cricket South Africa’s acting chief executive, told Cricbuzz. “If they get it they will recover. It’s the people in the stands who are the concern. It’s more about public safety, but we are monitoring the situation on a 12-hour basis. Our medical committee is dealing with it, and if we get an expert opinion we will take drastic action.”
Cricket Ireland pulls down shutter until March 29
Cricket Ireland has shut its office for staff and visitors until March 29. All staff will follow work-from-home procedures and meetings will be conducted via video conferencing. All training sessions led by the coaching staff has also been postponed immediately until 29 March 2020. A call on the Zimbabwe tour, scheduled in early April, will be taken in due course.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan announced that the upcoming games in the National Stadium will be played behind closed doors. The decision has been taken after an advisory from the Sindh government. The decision will not impact accredited commercial partners, media and other service providers in addition to the immediate families of the competing players and player support personnel as well as franchise owners. With regards to the matches in Lahore, decision will be taken after an advisory from the Punjab government.
Day 5 of Ranji Trophy final to be played behind closed doors
On expected lines, the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) will not allow spectators to attend the final day of the ongoing Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal.
After a fresh advisory from the Indian government, there are high chances that the IPL and the remainder of India-SA series will be played behind closed doors, meaning no spectators will be allowed inside the stadium. “You are advised to adhere to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event,” the Government of India advisory read. “In the event the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing gathering of people, including spectators.”
The second and third India-SA ODIs are set to be played in Lucknow and Kolkata, while the IPL starts March 29.
T20 World Cup final attendee at MCG tests positive
At least one spectator at the India-Australia T20 World Cup final at the MCG has tested positive. The statement released by MCG said that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has “advised of the patron’s diagnosis and has classified it as a low-risk of spreading COVID-19 to surrounding members of the public and staff. The patron sat on Level 2 of the Northern Stand at the MCG in section N42.”
Somerset CCC cancel pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi
The players and staff were due to depart on Sunday for the tour, which consisted of warm weather training and a number of different format matches against Essex and Worcestershire, before returning on March 29th. “Although Abu Dhabi has appropriate protocols in place, the change of the national state from ‘Contain’ to ‘Delay’ coupled with the potential escalation of any isolation process for those returning to the UK have become key factors in the decision making process,” Director of cricket, Andy Hurry, explained. “Any imposed period of inactivity due to isolation of our players and staff would certainly adversely impact our pre-season preparation and potentially some early season fixtures.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 11
The decision on having a meeting with regards to this was taken THIS evening, soon after reports of Maharashtra government’s objection over the hosting of the event emerged. Speaking on the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s stand on it, Brijesh Patel – IPL chairman told Cricbuzz, “We are monitoring the situation for now and will have an update once a decision is taken.”
A list of dos and don’ts from BCCI
‘Washing hands for 20 seconds”, “use sanitizer” are not something BCCI sends in an email everyday. But ahead of the three-match ODI series against South Africa, they have sent out a release stating that “all the players, team support staff, State Associations have been briefed about the standard guidelines issued by WHO as well as the Ministry of Health & Welfare – Government of India.”
The BCCI has also issued a mandate to the airlines, team hotels, State Associations and medical teams at venues about the thorough sanitization of all the facilities before and during team use, education of all staff members about the do’s and don’ts for prevention of COVID-19 transmission and continuous monitoring to ensure that the protocols are strictly followed.
ICC board meeting in Dubai under threat
Despite reports that the meeting, scheduled for March 26, has been called off, Cricbuzz can confirm that the meeting as of now is still on. The ICC is monitoring the situation and will make a decision soon. That said, a number of events in the UAE have been either postponed or cancelled. Even the schools remain shut, so the probability of this meeting happening in person is low.
The inaugural ACA Africa T20 Cup, scheduled to begin at Nairobi in 10 day’s time, has become the latest cricket tournament to be called off owing to the ongoing global Novel Coronavirus pandemic. The tournament, which was to have featured hosts Kenya along with Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Cameroon, Malawi and Botswana, has been postponed indefinitely as part of the Kenyan government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Bangladesh Cricket Board has postponed the two international T20 matches between Asia XI and World XI in light of the current COVID-19 outbreak. The games were scheduled to be played on March 21 and 22 to mark the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
England will not shake hands (they will prefer first-bumps) or stop for selfies on their Sri Lanka tour in order to contain the coronavirus threat. England have decided to limit overall public engagement for their players and management on the tour in order to avoid possible infection and spreading of the COVID-19.
MONDAY, MARCH 9
Only one ticket per person to be sold
Bangladesh Cricket Board has decided to sell only one ticket to one person in order avoid mass gathering during the two-match series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as part of precaution for the coronavirus. BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury confirmed the development to Cricbuzz. Three people have so far tested positive in the country.
THURSDAY, MARCH 5
The 2020 edition of Nepal’s Everest Premier League, which was scheduled to begin in nine days time, has been indefinitely postponed owing to concerns over the ongoing Coronavirus epidemic. The franchise competition, which was to feature high-profile overseas signings such as Chris Gayle, Upul Tharanga, Corey Anderson and Kevin O’Brien, becomes the latest event to be affected as health authorities warn against staging mass gatherings.
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has also prompted the ICC to postpone the second round of CWC Challenge League A, which was set to be begin in Malaysia on March 16. The six-team tourney is the second of three rounds that make up on of the two groups in the Challenge League – the third tier of the 2023 World Cup qualification ladder.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6
Update on the SA tour of India
So the short South Africa tour of India is indeed happening. CSA put out a release stating: “While the risk remains low, precautionary measures are necessary because of the highly infectious nature of the disease. The team has been appraised of hygiene precautions, avoidance measures, and symptom recognition in addition to being provided with travel kits.”
TUESDAY, MARCH 3
Bangladesh Cricket Board will be holding talks with the Pakistan Cricket Board and will study the situation before deciding on the last phase of their three-part tour of the country. The talks are in relation to suspected cases of coronavirus after schools in Sindh were directed to remain closed till March 13 during the isolation period. “For us players’ safety comes as the first priority and we are not going to compromise with it at any cost,” BCB media committee chairman Jalal Yunus told Cricbuzz on Tuesday (March 3).