A round-up of how the cricket community is reacting to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) threat | ESPNcricinfo.com

A round-up of how the cricket community is reacting to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) threat | ESPNcricinfo.com

March 12
The ICC Board has decided to hold its next round of meetings, scheduled for end of March in Dubai, via “conference call only”. The ICC announced on Thursday that in light of the continued spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and amid concerns expressed my its members, they will convene remotely to consider matters for urgent decision only and hold the full meetings in May.
“In light of the continued global spread of COVID-19, concerns expressed by Members and mindful of the importance of taking mitigating measures against the virus, the ICC Board, has decided to hold its meetings scheduled for Dubai at the end March via conference call only,” the ICC said in a statement.
“The Board and a number of committees will convene remotely to consider matters for urgent decision only, with the full meetings rescheduled for early May. This will be kept under constant review in line with advice from relevant authorities as the health and well-being of staff and those attending the meetings remains our priority.”
The ICC meetings are scheduled to be held over the March 26-29 weekend and is an important one, given that the body wants to get on with the bidding process it has drafted for global events in the 2023-31 cycle of the Future Tours Programme. Also on the agenda is finalising the playing conditions for the ODI League which will start in May 2021.
Earlier this month the members of the Asian Cricket Council were scheduled to meet in Dubai to discuss the venue for the Asia Cup, but that too was deferred due to concerns about the coronavirus.
Karachi games of PSL to be played behind closed doors
Karachi Kings’ match against Lahore Qalandars on Thursday will be the last PSL contest at the National Stadium to be played in front of a crowd. In a bid to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, the PCB announced, following advice from the provincial government, that all remaining games at the National Stadium will be played to empty stadiums. At the time of writing, the number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan stood at 21, with the bulk of them originating in Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.
It is one of a number of steps the PCB is taking, including urging all players to avoid shaking hands with each other and urging fans not to approach players for photographs and autographs. “Following developments in the past 24 hours, the PCB has decided to take a proactive approach and put in place precautionary measures to better safeguard the health and safety of all those who will be involved in the upcoming matches,” the PCB’s chief operating officer Wasim Khan said.
Fans will be refunded for tickets purchased. The fate of the fixtures in Karachi had been in doubt for a number of days since the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Karachi on February 26, but on advice from the government, the decision was made to proceed with the games in front of packed stadiums. As such, the game between Karachi and Lahore on Thursday was attended by a full house. The decision represents something of a U-turn, which will affect four matches in Karachi.
Last two ODIs of India-South Africa series to be played behind closed doors
The remaining two ODIs of the ongoing series between India and South Africa will be played to empty stadiums. The development comes in the wake of the Indian government directing the BCCI and other national sporting federations, including the Indian Olympics Committee, on Thursday to “avoid” mass gatherings at sporting events as it takes steps to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Lucknow will be hosting the second ODI on March 16 and Kolkata the final ODI on March 18.
Last day of Ranji Trophy final to be played in empty stadium
As a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus, the fifth day of the ongoing Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal in Rajkot will be played in front of empty stands.
On the basis of a directive from India’s Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and as advised by the BCCI, Saurashtra Cricket Association took the decision to not allow spectators inside the stadium for Friday’s play. As per a release from the association, only the following people are allowed for the final day.

  • Both teams
  • Support staff of both teams
  • Match officials
  • TV & radio crews
  • Officials, support staff and service staff of the association
  • Accredited media persons

Road Safety World Series to be played behind closed doors
The Road Safety World Series T20 tournament, which features five teams comprising retired greats including Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, has been “postponed”, as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The tournament was supposed to see 10 league matches, of which four had been played, followed by a final at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on March 22.
The organisers had earlier announced on Thursday morning that the remaining games would be played behind closed doors but it later emerged that the tournament was called off.
The #RoadSafetyWorldSeries has been postponed due to #COVID19 but had fun playing in front the full house.Thanks to my team mates and the fans for all the support. Absolutely loved playing again. #cricketpic.twitter.com/pT3TjatE36
Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) March 12, 2020
The move comes in the wake of the Maharashtra government deciding to cancel all public gatherings, including political meetings and conferences, in order to check the spread of the coronavirus.
IPL 2020 likely to take place behind closed doors
It is now a strong possibility that IPL 2020 will take place behind closed doors, in light of the coronavirus threat, with the Indian government indicating it will not stop sporting events from taking place as long as they adhere strictly to health-ministry guidelines discouraging mass gatherings.
Fan who attended Women’s T20 World Cup final tests positive
A fan who attended the T20 World Cup final at the MCG on Sunday night has tested positive for coronavirus. The fan was seated at the stadium’s Northern Stand.
“The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), as ground managers of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), is aware that a person who attended the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final at the MCG on Sunday March 8 has now been diagnosed with COVID-19,” a statement on the Melbourne Cricket Club website said. “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.
“The DHHS recommends that those who were seated in N42 at Sunday’s event should continue to go about their normal routine, with an increased focus on hygiene measures, and should any flu-like symptoms emerge to consult with a medical professional.
“The MCC is working closely with the Government and the DHHS and the advice is to operate business as usual, including hosting major events, however are prepared should that change at any stage. The MCC is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for those visiting the MCG and as a precautionary measure have undertaken intensive cleaning of the affected section.”
A crowd of 86,174 attended the final between Australia and India, only 4,641 short of the record for a women’s sporting event, set during the 1999 FIFA World Cup final in Pasadena.
Notts cancel friendly due to Northants’ Singapore tour
Nottinghamshire have cancelled a planned pre-season friendly against Northamptonshire and replaced it with a game against Lancashire amid coronavirus fears.
Northants are currently in Singapore on their pre-season tour, where there are at least 178 recorded cases of coronavirus. They had considered alternative venues after the outbreak but travelled after consultation with the ECB, and head coach David Ripley told the Northamptonshire Telegraph that any non-cricketing activities had been cut, meaning “we are pretty much going to be at the hotel and then the cricket venue”.
Under current UK government advice, returning travellers from Singapore should self-isolate for 14 days if they experience any symptoms of the virus, however mild. ESPNcricinfo understands that none of the players on the tour has experienced any health issues and that the mood in the squad is good.
Lancashire are one of three counties to confirm the cancellation of an overseas tour to date (Surrey and Worcestershire are the others), while it is understood that some of Hampshire’s squad have not travelled to La Manga as planned. Essex have travelled to Abu Dhabi and a spokesperson said there was “nothing to report” regarding any possible changes to their schedule, while Yorkshire arrived in Mumbai this morning.
March 11
ICC board meeting in March under coronavirus cloud
The status of the next set of ICC board meetings is in doubt due to travel restrictions emanating from the coronavirus epidemic that has disrupted movements across the globe. The ICC meetings were scheduled to be held over the March 26-29 weekend in Dubai and is an important one, given that the ICC management wants to get on with the bidding process it has drafted for global events in the 2023-31 cycle of the Future Tours Programme.
Not everyone is on the same page as the ICC, however, with the BCCI, ECB and several other boards wary of adding extra ICC events into the next cycle, which would eat into their bilateral calendar. Although the events were approved by the ICC Board last October, the BCCI and ECB have since raised strong objections and now want to re-open consultations on the additional events before moving ahead on the bidding process. Also on the agenda are finalising the playing conditions for the ODI League which will start in May 2021.
But the impact of the coronavirus in the UAE, where a number of sporting events have either been cancelled or played behind closed doors, and schools have been shut, means that the ICC, as well as its members, are monitoring and reviewing the status of those meetings. The UAE has also put in place travel restrictions on individuals traveling in from certain countries. The country has so far reported 74 cases of people being infected.
If the ICC meetings are postponed, it will be the second time a key cricket meeting has been taken out of Dubai. Earlier this month the members of the Asian Cricket Council were scheduled to meet there to discuss the venue for the Asia Cup, but deferred due to concerns about the coronavirus.
The ICC’s final decision is expected either tomorrow, or next week but alternative options could include postponement or video conferences.
Can’t avoid fans but can avoid going ‘much closer’ to them – Bhuveshwar Kumar
On the eve of the ODI series opener between India and South Africa in Dharamsala, visiting captain Quinton de Kock and the returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar touched upon the precautions that the two teams have taken amid fears of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra has made the trip with the team, and Kumar said that India’s team doctor is also making sure the players are fit and healthy.
“A few dos and don’ts he [the doctor] has asked us to do: simple things like hygiene, keep washing your hands and when it comes to going closer to the fans and all those things, you cannot avoid because they love us, support us,” Kumar said. “In the meantime, we can try to be and not say no to them but we can choose not to go much closer to going into the public, so we can avoid as much as we can and keep wearing masks and gloves and all those things.”
When asked if India will still go ahead and shine the ball with the saliva, Kumar said, “We have thought about this thing [not using saliva] but I can’t say right now we will not use saliva because if we don’t use saliva then how will we shine the ball. Then we will get hit and you people will say you are not bowling [well].”
As for de Kock, he said that South Africa won’t mind using their saliva to shine the ball. “We’ve been tested [for coronavirus] on our way in here, but think we will still shine the ball,” he said. Our team doctors and management have made sure all are fit and don’t have coronavirus. So, we will tend to that and will keep the ball shining.”
BCCI releases list of precautions for India to follow
The Indian board on March 11 shared a list of precautions for India, the visitors South Africa and for the general public who will watch the ODI series.
All public toilets at match venues will be “stocked with hand wash liquids and sanitizers” while medical staff and first aiders at the ground will keep a track of those feeling unwell on match day. Apart from that, the Indian team management has been educated on the standard healthcare guidelines including “washing hands with soap for 20 seconds” and “covering mouth while sneezing or coughing.”
The management has also been told not to indulge in selfie opportunities, interactions and eating out at restaurants “where hygiene standards are unknown.” They have also been told to inform the medical team immediately if they feel unwell. Hotels and airlines that will be used by the players during the series have also been issued a mandate to sanitise their surroundings.
World XI v Asia XI matches postponed amid coronavirus fears
The global spread of the coronavirus has claimed another international sporting fixture with the Bangladesh Cricket Board postponing the World XI v Asia XI matches that would have marked the birthday celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, referred to as father of the nation.
These matches were scheduled to take place on March 21 and 22 in Dhaka and were set to include a variety of superstars including Virat Kohli, Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle, but the BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced on Wednesday that they had been “deferred” until further notice”.
England ban selfies with fans amid Coronavirus fears
England’s cricket team will refrain from taking selfies with fans and limit public engagements on their tour of Sri Lanka amid the global Coronavirus outbreak.
The team also asked “all supporters joining the tour to maintain good levels of hygiene” as advised by the World Health Organisation Britain’s National Health Service to avoid possible infection and spreading of illness in a statement released by the ECB on Wednesday.
“Following the world health agency’s advice, and in order to protect the players and, in turn, the integrity and continuation of the Sri Lanka Test tour, the team has put in place several precautions, leading to a number of normal activities being cancelled for the foreseeable future,” the statement said.
“England players and staff have been asked to avoid any unnecessary public engagements, and temporarily avoid casual supporter interaction such as selfies or autographs. Whilst we acknowledge that this will be disappointing for some supporters, we stress that this a measure to protect the ongoing wellbeing of the England Test squad and is a decision which has not been taken lightly.”
England players and staff will continue to replace handshakes with fist bumps in an attempt to minimise contact.
PSL games to go ahead in Karachi as scheduled
The PCB has confirmed that the PSL matches in Karachi will go ahead as scheduled amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.
“In this background, we are satisfied with the feedback the Sindh government has provided and the support it has assured,” a PCB statement said. “At the same time, the PCB has promised the Sindh government that it will work very closely with its commercial partner and support wherever it can to assist in the health and safety of the spectators.
“The PCB now looks forward to a strong turnaround at the Karachi matches as the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 enters a critical phase with five of the six sides fighting for places in the play-offs.”
According to reports, there have been 16 cases of the virus in Pakistan so far, with nine new cases identified in Karachi.
Asia XI v World XI: BCCI to review situation in Dhaka
The coronavirus threat has cast doubts over the two-match T20I series between an Asia XI and a World XI in Dhaka, planned as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation of Bangladesh.
Six Indians, including Virat Kohli, are expected to play a part in the tournament, and the BCCI is adopting a wait-and-watch policy on the matter.
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has been quoted by the New Indian Express as saying: “Players from western countries are also scheduled to participate. With regard to our players’ participation, we’ll review the situation and take a call accordingly. In my knowledge and as of now, the Bangladesh Cricket Board has not officially intimated the BCCI in this regard. Anyway, whoever is dealing with the issue must be keeping a close watch on the developments.”
Surrey and Worcestershire cancel pre-season tours
Surrey and Worcestershire have decided to cancel their planned pre-season trips to Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively, after weighing up the risks associated with Coronavirus.
Having concluded our own internal risk assessment, following the outbreak of COVID-19, we can confirm the squad will not be going on pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi
Worcestershire CCC (@WorcsCCC) March 11, 2020
Surrey’s director of cricket, Alec Stewart, said: “While it’s disappointing we won’t be able to return to Dubai this year, the health of our players and staff is paramount … current uncertainties around travel and potential quarantine periods, either abroad or in the UK, mean this trip would simply be too disruptive to our preparations for the 2020 season.”
March 10
South Africa and India are likely to avoid shaking hands with each other during their three-match ODI series, which starts on Thursday, and will exchange fist bumps instead as a precaution against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The 11-day tour is going ahead after CSA conducted an expert assessment of the risk of traveling given the growing number of global coronavirus infections, and deemed it safe for the team to transit through New Dubai and Delhi and play in Dharamsala, Lucknow and Kolkata. The team has been briefed on precautionary measures and CSA’s chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, will be traveling with the team.
Other than the lack of handshakes – which will also be the case for England in Sri Lanka – South Africa have not been given any other specific instructions. They will continue to interact with fans and have even taken some photographs with them, including selfies. – Firdose Moonda
March 9
One ticket per person for first T20I – BCB reacts to concerns
The BCB has restricted the sale of tickets – one per person – for the first T20I between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, to be played later today in Dhaka, in a bid to “discourage public gathering” following concerns about the spread of COVID-19. With one person being sold only one ticket, the target is to keep the crowd to one-fifth of the capacity at the 25,000-seater Shere Bangla National Stadium.
March 6
CSA going forward with India tour after medical advice
South Africa’s tour of India for three ODIs will go ahead after the organisation completed a risk assessment regarding the spread of COVID-19 across the world. While South Africa reported its first confirmed case of the virus on Thursday, India’s health ministry has estimated infections are affecting around 30 people. But a team of experts have deemed the country and the team’s transit routes safe for travel. CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra will make the trip with the team.
March 5
Everest Premier League postponed
The Everest Premier League, Nepal’s foremost franchise T20 tournament, has been postponed following a government directive to refrain from mass gatherings amid fears about the transmission of COVID-19.
March 3
No handshakes for England in Sri Lanka
England’s players will not be shaking hands with one another on their tour to Sri Lanka, captain Joe Root has revealed, using “the well-established fist bump” as a greeting instead.

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