Cricket Australia could refuse to play in next week’s marquee Twenty20 clash against New Zealand in Auckland if it means players have to quarantine for a fortnight upon returning home.
The two nations are due to meet in the fourth clash of the five-match series at Eden Park on Friday but ongoing COVID-19 cases in the city from the Valentine’s Day outbreak have cricketing officials on high alert.
New Zealand is at an alert level-one status, and Victoria, NSW and Queensland have reclassified Auckland as a hotspot. Anyone arriving from Auckland can no longer skip quarantine and must instead spend two weeks in hotel isolation.
In need of runs: Aaron Finch.Credit:Getty Images
Australia’s 18 players and management had to quarantine for a fortnight upon arriving in New Zealand and are desperate to avoid another fortnight in a hotel when they return home, having spent a summer largely living in a bio-secure bubble through international or domestic competitions.
If there is no change to the quarantine restrictions by the end of next week, CA is open to refusing to play in Auckland and could ask for the match to be shifted.
A CA spokeswoman said on Saturday that the governing body was monitoring the situation.
“We will just continue to monitor it and see where we get to. It has been like this all summer, the whole season,” she said.
A New Zealand Cricket spokesman said the governing body would continue to operate within the government framework.
“NZC has confidence in, and continues to operate within the New Zealand government’s alert level protocols,” he said.
“This means at level one it’s pretty much business as usual; at level two games are played behind closed doors, and at level three, games are abandoned. New Zealand is currently at alert level one.”
Victoria’s Department of Health has said any flights from Auckland are regarded as “red zone” arrivals.
The New Zealand and Australian governments had implemented a travel bubble since late last year which had avoided the need for quarantine.
An alert level-one status means there are still no restrictions on crowd sizes but a level-two status will mean the Auckland clash could not not go ahead with a crowd.
Game three of the series – the tourists trail 2-0 – will be held in Wellington on Wednesday, with game five on March 7 in Tauranga. There are no COVID-19 cases in those cities.
The Australians are determined to generate momentum in Wellington, with skipper Aaron Finch under particular pressure to deliver a decisive knock after a combined 13 runs in his two innings.
He has failed to post a half-century in his past 26 T20 innings, whether that be at a domestic or international level, and averages only 15 through this period.
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