New Zealand players huddle before a game. © Getty Images

Cricket continues to be affected by the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic with New Zealand’s tour to Sri Lanka, the latest series on the women’s calendar to be postponed. On Friday (April 3), David White, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive, announced that the trip, scheduled for later this month, had been called off. White added that it would be too early to comment on the possibility of playing any cricket over the next few months.

“Clearly, this situation is extremely disappointing for everyone involved in sport but, given the bigger picture, and the terrible toll COVID-19 is taking worldwide, we need to look after not only our own people but the greater community good,” White said.

While the crisis has affected cricket all around the world, leading to series being cancelled or postponed, New Zealand have been largely lucky with the ‘timing’ of the lockdown in terms of the domestic calendar. Unlike England, where the season is yet to get underway, New Zealand’s domestic tournaments were winding down when the lockdown was imposed. In fact, the women’s tournaments had, by then, already come to a close. The Women’s Super Smash was decided in January this year – Wellington Blaze completing the three-peat – while the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield final was held in March – Auckland Hearts taking the trophy.

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“Cricket in New Zealand has been fortunate in that we were very much at the end of our home summer programme when this crisis struck. However, with the lockdown now in full force, we’re mindful of the difficulties facing our cricket community. Our current focus is very much on ensuring the future sustainability of cricket in New Zealand.”

On a more positive note, the NZC awards, initially called off due to the pandemic, will be reinvented through a digital media campaign on April 28.

“We look forward to recognising and congratulating our outstanding players, officials, volunteers, coaches and administrators for the 2019-20 season in a fitting way, despite the restrictions and limitations of the current climate,” White said.

Meanwhile, NZC have applied for the Government Wage Subsidy Scheme to help them through the next 12 weeks. The scheme helps employers adversely affected by the lockdown pay their employees through the period. In addition, staff have agreed to working a four-day working week, thereby exhausting their leave entitlements until July 31.

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“We take our duty of care as an employer seriously and, at this juncture, want to avoid any changes to our employee headcount or remuneration levels,” he said. “However, we’ll continue to closely monitor the effects on the wider cricket family.”

NZC will continue to monitor the situation around the world and work towards understanding the various possible scenarios that could play out over the year. The aim is to hopefully make sure all cricket is feasible next season – at the community, domestic and international levels.

“Although the future is uncertain, we’re determined to be well-prepared for whatever opportunities arise,” he said.