Auckland hotspot could prompt Australia to refuse to play

New Zealand v Australia T20 series 2021: Auckland lockdown sees Twenty20 match moved to Wellington

Australia’s T20 match moved to Wellington after snap Auckland lockdown

Australia’s Twenty20 tour of New Zealand was thrown into chaos on Saturday night after NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a snap seven-day lockdown for Auckland.

The two nations had been due to meet in the fourth clash of the five-match series at Eden Park on Friday but the lockdown, and the raising of the restrictions around the rest of the country, ensured the swift relocation of the match.

The lockdown caught the Australian squad by surprise, with their biggest fear now being, if the rest of the tour proceeds, whether they would have to endure another fortnight of hotel quarantine upon returning home to Australia.

“We are monitoring the situation in New Zealand and we are working with authorities and the government as to what all this means,” a Cricket Australia spokeswoman said on Saturday night.

Auckland has been put on level-three alert from 6am – with public venues and schools closed, and people to stay at home – while the rest of the country was put on level two alert, limiting public gatherings, after a new community COVID-19 case was detected in Auckland. On Saturday night, a second case was confirmed. At the level three alert, all sporting events are cancelled.

New Zealand Cricket confirmed that the Eden Park match had been moved Wellington, giving it back-to-back games on Wednesday and Friday.

In need of runs: Aaron Finch.

In need of runs: Aaron Finch.Credit:Getty Images

The matches are set to be played without crowds, although a decision on whether crowds can attend the last match in Tauranga on March 7 will be made in coming days. There have been no cases in Wellington and Tauranga.

A New Zealand Cricket spokesman said before the lockdown announcement that 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.″⁣

Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and Queensland require anyone arriving from Auckland to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine. Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland require people flying from anywhere in New Zealand to quarantine.

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 biosecure bubble through international or domestic competitions.

The New Zealand and Australian governments had implemented a travel bubble since late last year which had avoided the need for quarantine.

International cricket is not the only sport affected by the sudden lockdown, with the opening weekend of the America’s Cup sailing competition scheduled for next weekend. America’s Cup organisers were reviewing the situation and will work with New Zealand authorities on possible implications for the famous regatta.

Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.

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Source: Auckland hotspot could prompt Australia to refuse to play

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