The participating teams at the upcoming women’s ODI World Cup, scheduled to begin next week in New Zealand, will be allowed to take the field even with nine fit players in case of a Covid-19 outbreak, reports suggest.
Media reports from New Zealand said that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed that female members of a team’s support staff will be permitted to field in a match in the case of a significant Covid outbreak, with games to proceed so long as a team has a minimum of nine players available.
Normally, any team needs to have atleast a total of eleven players with substitutes from the squad of 15 allowed to take the field in case of the unavailibity of more than one player. However, as the organisers are eyeing to keep the showpiece tournament on track despite the rising number of Covid cases in the host nation, the global cricket governing body amended the rules of play.
“If it becomes necessary, we would allow a team to field nine players as an exception for this environment,” Chris Tetley, the ICC’s Head of Events, said on Thursday
“And if they had female substitutes from within their management team, we would enable two substitutes to play, non-batting, non-bowling … to enable a game to take place,” he added.
Meanwhile, the teams have been allowed to carry extra reserves with them to the host nation so that players can be brought in and out of the squad in the case of any Covid outbreak.
“We’v’e allowed squads to bring additional travelling reserves so that they can replace on a temporary basis if needs be, because of Covid, players in and out of the squad during the event which is four or five-week-long event, so there’s opportunity for players, maybe to contract Covid,” Tetley added.
Notably, the number of daily cases in New Zealand rose beyond 6000 on Thursday. In the upcoming event, a total of 31 matches will be held at six venues and Tetley said that games could be rescheduled if there be a significant Covid-19 outbreak in a team.
“We would, were it necessary, reschedule fixtures if it’s possible. There are a number of logistical restraints upon us, but we’ll be asking teams to show maximum flexibility and we’ll be as flexible as possible if the need arises to fulfil our objective, which is to get the games on,” he added.
On the other hand, Cricket World Cup chief executive Andrea Nelson said that players will be following some “pretty strict protocols to keep them safe” and crowd numbers would be below capacity due to current restrictions but would vary from venue to venue and possibly change as the tournament progresses.
Significantly, the Womens World Cup was originally scheduled for 2021. It is being held in New Zealand as it is one of the few countries in the world to maintain a hard international border, which meant all teams had to quarantine upon their arrival.