Covid-19: Trans-Tasman netball, cricket internationals can go ahead if level 2 remains

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Captains Aaron Finch of Australia and Kane Williamson of New Zealand before their most recent trans-Tasman match in March last year, played behind closed doors at the SCG.

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Captains Aaron Finch of Australia and Kane Williamson of New Zealand before their most recent trans-Tasman match in March last year, played behind closed doors at the SCG.

Trans-Tasman netball and cricket internationals in coming weeks can still go ahead under Covid-19 alert level 2, albeit without fans.

Netball New Zealand and New Zealand Cricket both said their big home series against Australia were not under threat, if the respective host cities were at alert levels 2 or 1.

NZC public affairs manager Richard Boock said of its matches: “If it’s at level 2 it’s [played] behind closed doors, and if it’s at level 3 it’s abandoned.”

RNZ

A few nerves and two weeks in managed isolation haven’t been enough to keep White Ferns cricket captain Sophie Devine down.

Boock said it was “very unlikely” the Twenty20 double-header scheduled for Eden Park on March 5 would be moved, which means an extension of level 3 for several weeks in Auckland would see it called off.

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Level 2, which is all areas outside Auckland until 11.59pm on Wednesday, restricts public gatherings to 100 people which means sporting events can take place without crowds.

The England women’s team played the second match of their cricket tour against a New Zealand XI under alert level 2 restrictions in Queenstown on Tuesday, and are scheduled to face the White Ferns in the opening one-day international in Christchurch next Tuesday.

Australia’s men’s team, currently in managed isolation in Christchurch, open their Twenty20 tour against the Black Caps at Hagley Oval on Monday night.

That match is already sold out, and requires a shift from level 2 to level 1 for fans to be allowed in, which means an anxious wait for the Government’s next move.

NZC transferred Auckland-based Black Caps Kyle Jamieson, Mark Chapman, Jimmy Neesham and Glenn Phillips to Tauranga to train on Sunday, before the alert level change was announced, and they will fly to Christchurch on Thursday. Martin Guptill remained in Auckland as he and wife Laura await the birth of their second child.

The Silver Ferns squad at a training camp in Wellington in January.

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The Silver Ferns squad at a training camp in Wellington in January.

Currently all sport in Auckland is off, and travel in and out of the city restricted, due to alert level 3.

Boock said Friday’s Ford Trophy match between Auckland Aces and Central Stags at Eden Park’s Outer Oval had not yet been abandoned, in the hope of a relaxation of alert levels if the current outbreak is contained.

Australia’s subsequent T20 matches against the Black Caps are scheduled for Dunedin (February 25) and Wellington (March 3) before game four in Auckland.

England’s women play the White Ferns in three ODIs in Christchurch and Dunedin (February 26 and 28) before the first T20 as a double header in Wellington on March 3. Australia’s women are set to follow for three T20s and three ODIs, starting in Hamilton on March 28.

Australia’s Diamonds netball team arrived in New Zealand on Monday for their fortnight of managed isolation, ahead of tests against the Silver Ferns in Christchurch on March 2 and 3, and in Tauranga on March 6 and 7.

NNZ chose to stage the series outside of Auckland because of concerns about Covid-19’s return to the city.

The Silver Ferns didn’t play for nine months last year as Covid-19 wiped out their schedule, but they returned to the court last October for a three-test series against the England Roses in Hamilton, which they won 3-0.

The 2020 Constellation Cup was postponed because of Covid-19 and the Silver Ferns haven’t faced Australia since October 2019.

The Silver Ferns will gather before the series on February 28, a NNZ spokesperson said, and their preparations haven’t been affected too much by Auckland’s return to level 3. Most of the squad are based outside of the city.

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