New Zealand became probably the first top flight Cricket playing nation to have completely abolished the existence of COVID-19 from the country. On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifted most of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic after no active cases were reported.
It has been 17 days since the last new case of the coronavirus was reported in New Zealand, with over 40,000 people being tested during this time period, and this has seen New Zealand be declared free of coronavirus.
This opens up a window of opportunity for the game of Cricket. Now that the country is free of the virus, the possibility of scheduling neutral Test matches has increased. Heath Mills, the chief executive of New Zealand’s player’s Association has stated the same.
Mills was quoted as saying by I Newspaper, “I could see New Zealand operating as a neutral venue. That’s a definite possibility. I know New Zealand Cricket have been in contact with the ECB and others about the potential for that to happen this summer.”
Neutral venues in international cricket are not new with Pakistan hosting most of its home series in the UAE since teams stopped touring there in the wake of attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009. However, Pakistan has been gradually trying to bring back international cricket. Mills expects New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to seriously consider the prospect of hosting neutral Tests.
In April, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison had confirmed offers from New Zealand and Australia, also one of the least affected countries, to host county cricket.
International cricket is set to resume next month with England hosting a 3 Test match series against the West Indies in a bio-secure environment. However, there are questions over the feasibility of playing under a bio-bubble on a regular basis.