In a bid to reduce the risk of Omicron in the country, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Thursday announced to tweak the schedule for the upcoming home fixtures which will reduce the travel between venues as much as possible.
The new changes will see the upcoming two men’s Tests against South Africa in February, which will be part of the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, being played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Notably, as per the earlier schedule, the teams were scheduled to play the second fixture in Wellington.
The other changes will see the New Zealand women’s short-form series against India (one T20 and five ODIs) played solely at John Davies Oval in Queenstown; Australia’s three T20s against the BLACKCAPS hosted in Napier (subject to MIQ availability), and the Netherlands men’s tour split between Mount Maunganui (one T20 and one ODI) and Hamilton (two ODIs).
Commenting on the development, NZC chief executive David White said the venue changes were just one part of a contingency plan designed to safeguard the health of all participants, and to reduce the chance of matches or series being jeopardised by an outbreak.
“These risk mitigations are based on avoiding known Covid-19 hotspots, and include limiting air travel, limiting accommodation transfers and, essentially, operating in safer environments. We know the more domestic flights we have, and the more movement there is between hotels, the greater the chance of a match or even a series being put at risk,” White said.
“It’s a real blow for those in our cricket family who have missed out on hosting events through no fault of their own. However, the current environment demands we take every possible measure to, 1) make sure people are safe and well, and 2) deliver a summer of international cricket with the least possible disruption,” White further expressed.
He said the intent was to play all matches on the dates, and at the times, previously scheduled, and to explore the concept of allowing multiple pods, each of no more than 100 spectators, in venues in accordance with government guidelines.
NZ’s revised home summer schedule:
New Zealand v South Africa – two Tests: Both Test matches to be played at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
New Zealand Women v India – one T20I & five ODIs: All matches to be played at John Davies Oval, Queenstown.
New Zealand v Australia – three T20Is: All matches to be played at McLean Park, Napier.
New Zealand v Netherlands – one T20 & three ODIs: The first two matches (one T20I & one ODI) to be played at Bay Oval, Tauranga, The last two matches (two ODIs) to be played at Seddon Park, Hamilton.