Australia v New Zealand ODIs to go ahead without spectators amid virus worries

The first one-day international will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground later on Friday with the second at the same stadium on Sunday and a third in Hobart next Friday.

Australia's batsman Steve Smith avoids a bouncer from New Zealand bowler Neil Wagner on the first day of the second cricket Test match at the MCG in Melbourne on 26 December 2019. Picture: AFP

SYDNEY - Australia’s one-day series against New Zealand in Sydney and Hobart will go ahead over the next weeks but no fans will be admitted to the stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic, Cricket Australia (CA) said on Friday.

The first one-day international will be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground later on Friday with the second at the same stadium on Sunday and a third in Hobart next Friday.

The governing body also suspended a tour of South Africa by Australia’s women’s team “until further notice” and said they would be reviewing the three-match Twenty20 tour of New Zealand by their men’s team scheduled for later this month.

“Cricket Australia will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation at home and overseas before making a decision on Australian men’s international matches beyond the Australian leg of the ODI tournament,” read a statement.

A CA spokesman said paceman Kane Richardson was quarantined after reporting a mild sore throat on Thursday night, adding the 29-year-old would return to the ground only if tests return a negative result for the virus.

Sean Abbott has joined the squad as cover.

CA Chief Executive Kevin Roberts said they were in touch with the country’s health officials, after the season-opening Formula One race in Melbourne was cancelled earlier on Friday, joining a long list of events affected by the virus.

“We’re taking this one day at a time and perhaps then one week at a time. We’ve made decisions on the next nine days ahead of us,” Roberts told reporters.

“It would be premature to make decisions now based on what’s happening on the coming months, but it’s not premature to make decisions based on now and the next week.”

Roberts defended the move to allow last Sunday’s women’s T20 World Cup final to go ahead in front of 86,174 fans at Melbourne - a record for a women’s sporting event in Australia - after a supporter at the game later tested positive.

“A lot of things have changed since last Sunday and based on the information then it was the right thing to do (to play the final) to inspire the world of women and girls and to give cricket a massive springboard,” Roberts said.

India's cricket board has also stepped up efforts to control the spread of the virus and said in a statement here that the remaining two ODIs of the three-match home series against visitors South Africa would be played without fans present.