NZC moves matches due to logistical complications caused by shift of Friday’s matches from Auckland after the city was put into a lockdown
The remainder of the two ongoing series in New Zealand, involving Australia’s men and England’s women, will be played entirely in Wellington after the final T20I double-header on Sunday was shifted from Mount Maunganui.
NZC said the change was needed due to “logistical complications” caused by the shift of Friday’s matches from Auckland after the city was put into a week-long Covid-19 lockdown. All the remaining matches will be played behind closed doors.
The New Zealand men’s team trained in Wellington on Monday without four Auckland-based players – Martin Guptill, Mark Chapman, Jimmy Neesham and Glenn Phillips – as they awaited results from Covid-19 tests having briefly returned home after the second match in Dunedin.
The squad are expecting to be under tighter restrictions around their movement over the coming week in Wellington
“Yesterday we got summoned to go to the hotel and stay in a small bubble together to create that secure environment for ourselves,” Devon Conway said. “Those little late changes do put spanners in the works but it’s a smart move so we are playing our part in being safe. At least it gives us an extended opportunity to play cricket even though there aren’t going to be any crowds.”
For Australia, the other major factor is whether the squad will need to quarantine when they return home early next week.
New Zealand has had a one-way bubble with some Australian states since late last year which has enabled quarantine-free travel, but since the latest outbreak in Auckland emerged in mid-February, the city has been designated a “red zone”, which means anyone travelling through has to go into two weeks hotel quarantine when arriving in Australia.
The team had been due to fly out of Auckland at the end of the series but an alternative departure point may now be used in order to try to avoid quarantine, although that will still depend on whether the New Zealand government adds further cities onto the “red zone” list.
The Australia squad had the weekend off in Wellington as the alert level changed but were able to spend time around the city as they plot how to come back from 2-0 down.
“We have to just look forward to the games coming up in Wellington, and that’s all we can do at this point in time,” Ashton Agar said of the challenges presented over the last few days.
“It’s not the ideal situation doing quarantine, no one really likes the thought of quarantine. “You always have to prepare a little bit, that thought is never easy. There’s a lot of guys who have done up to six weeks of isolation and quarantine, maybe more, and they’ve probably got more coming up.
“But we have really good support around us. We have faith in Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket that they have the players’ physical and mental health in their best interest.”
The New Zealand and England women’s team arrived in Wellington on Monday with their entire T20I series now taking place in the city.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo