Melbourne: All professional cricket has been canceled in Australia in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and national organizers are “strongly recommending” that the remainder of the season be called off at every level right down to children’s community games.
Cricket Australia announced the cancellation Tuesday and declared New South Wales state the winner of the Sheffield Shield, the national first-class competition. The last round of the regular season in the Sheffield Shield had already been scrapped and there was no prospect of the final going ahead as scheduled on March 27. International cricket series between Australia and New Zealand had already been postponed.
New South Wales won six games, lost two and drew one in the Shield, finishing 12 points clear of Victoria state.
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said the measures are aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
“By effectively canceling the remainder of our season, Cricket Australia is playing its part in protecting fans, players, staff, volunteers and match officials during this unprecedented global health issue,” Roberts said. “These are difficult decisions but the right ones in the circumstances.”
Roberts said Cricket Australia had closed its headquarters in Melbourne and instructed staff to work from home.
The move comes nine days after Australia hosted and won the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup final against India, in front of a crowd of more than 86,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The spread of the virus has escalated in Australia, with the season-opening Formula One Grand Prix canceled last weekend in Melbourne and other sports either suspended, called off or modified.