Omicron outbreak: Christchurch to benefit from revised Black Caps-South Africa schedule

Hagley Oval. Photo: Christchurch City Council
Hagley Oval. Photo: Christchurch City Council
New Zealand Cricket has moved to streamline its home international schedules for the Black Caps and White Ferns in order to mitigate the risk of an Omicron outbreak compromising upcoming fixtures.

The immediate changes will see the South Africa men's side remaining in Christchurch for the entire duration of its visit, playing both its scheduled tests at Hagley Oval rather than decamping to Wellington for the second match, as initially scheduled.

Other alterations will see the White Ferns short-form series against India (one T20 and five ODIs) played solely at John Davies Oval in Queenstown; Australia's three T20s against the Black Caps 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).

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," said White.

"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."

While crowds were likely to be severely reduced because of protocols under the "red" setting of the Covid-19 Protection Framework system, White said he knew those venues and centres that had lost fixtures would be sorely disappointed.

"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) ensure people are safe and well, and 2) deliver a summer of international cricket with the least possible disruption."

White said the intent was to play all matches on the dates and times previously scheduled, and to explore the concept of allowing venues to accommodate multiple "pods", each of no more than 100 spectators - in accordance with government guidelines.

Patrons who had purchased tickets for games no longer being played at the advertised venues would receive full refunds.

Meanwhile, the Proteas have confirmed their squad, which includes a recall for spin bowler Simon Harmer following a seven year absence.

South Africa depart for New Zealand on February 2 and will undergo 10 days of mandatory quarantine before being allowed to train.

The revised home summer schedule:

Black Caps v South Africa

  • First test: February 17-21, Hagley Oval.
  • Second test: February 25-March 1, Hagley Oval.

Black Caps v Australia (T20)

  • March 17, McLean Park, Napier.
  • March 18, McLean Park.
  • March 20, McLean Park.

Black Caps v Netherlands

  • T20: March 25, Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.
  • ODI: March 29, Bay Oval.

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