Cricket Ireland announce New Zealand and Pakistan fixtures are postponed

The Cricket Ireland Board met to discuss impact of COVID-19The Cricket Ireland Board met to discuss impact of COVID-19
The Cricket Ireland Board met to discuss impact of COVID-19
Ireland men’s home series against New Zealand and home T20Is against Pakistan have been postponed.

The Board of Cricket Ireland held a ‘virtual’ board meeting on Wednesday to consider a number of significant issues related to impacts on operations from COVID-19.

The first order of business was to receive updates and consider recommendations on the international fixture schedule.

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The three men’s ODI series against England scheduled to be played in England are under active discussion, with the possibility that they may move from their original dates of September.

Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, said about: “It had become fairly obvious following the recent series of Government announcements in the Republic and UK that the New Zealand series was not feasible.

“We had also said previously that the fate of some fixtures could be dependent upon decisions by the travelling team’s government.

“That is what has happened in this instance – we were taking the recommendation to yesterday’s Board Meeting to postpone the series in any case, however, on the eve of the meeting New Zealand Cricket (NZC) contacted us to inform us that they could not travel.

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“While of course it’s disappointing for the fans in Northern Ireland who I know were looking forward to the visit of the World Cup runners-up, given the circumstances we entirely understand NZC was left with no choice but to stay at home.

“We deeply regret that we can’t provide any international cricket at home to our fans this year, but we were always up against it with our entire home international programme coming in the first half of the season.

"We want to extend once again our sincere thanks to all those that worked so hard to facilitate what would have been 15 matches across seven venues over three months in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and England.”

The Board heard an update from the recently-held Euro T20 Slam Board Meeting. No definitive decision has been taken at the moment regarding the 2020 event.

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The Board received a detailed presentation about the COVID-19 impacts on the sporting landscape and the respective Governments’ roadmaps to reopening the Republic and Northern Ireland.

This included review of a draft Safe Return to Cricket Policy, which will form the basis of Cricket Ireland’s submission to government with its plan for a gradual build-up of activity in line with Government phasing.

Deutrom said about cricket’s response to COVID-19: “We understand the desire for getting back on the cricket pitch and rest assured we are working hard to ensure this can happen.

"We would like to acknowledge the cricket community across Ireland for working with us to adhere to public health directives to date – your support has helped to save lives.

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"Like pretty much every cricketer and family involved in cricket though, we want to see the sport resume at the earliest – however, it needs to occur in a managed way that prioritises the health and safety of the cricket community.

“We have had excellent cooperation with the Provincial Unions, and it is commonly agreed that our response as a sport is to be public-health led, as we do not want cricket to be the reason for further outbreaks.

"We are working hard to ensure all the government health and safety measures and protocols are in place prior to the opening of any facilities and getting back to training, and will implement all necessary procedures for cricket to happen safely.

“The draft plan we are finalising looks at how the mechanics of the sport (such as close-in fielders, slip cordons, ball-shining), sharing of equipment/facilities, temperature testing, at-risk participants (eg match officials over a certain age), even insurance liabilities, can all be properly understood to ensure we don’t expose any members of the cricket family to risk.

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"The latter of these is a real risk for many clubs and sports authorities, and we are not alone in dealing with these challenges.

“However, we have now seen a few sporting bodies successfully receive conditional approval to resume activity, so we view this as light at the end of the tunnel.

"However, this process will not be like flicking a switch unfortunately and the realities of formalising hygiene protocols and social distancing in a cricket context means we need to ask for continued patience from the cricket community while we work with Government, sports and health authorities on both sides of the border to see cricket resume in 2020.”

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