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Australia Australia's T20 tour of NZ in limbo

06:08  27 february  2021
06:08  27 february  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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Qantas T 20 Tour of NZ 2021. Australia ' s T 20 side will begin training on Thursday after all touring party members produced negative tests for COVID19 while in quarantine. The Aaron Finch-led squad are in Christchurch in the lead-up to the five-game series beginning on February 22. Under a negotiated agreement with New Zealand health authorities, players have been granted training privileges to allow them to prepare for the series.

The Australia cricket team are touring New Zealand in February and March 2021 to play five Twenty20 International ( T 20 I) matches.

a group of people standing next to a football ball: Australia's cricket tour to New Zealand is in jeopardy if the visitors have to quarantine again. © AP PHOTO Australia's cricket tour to New Zealand is in jeopardy if the visitors have to quarantine again.

The blockbuster Australia-New Zealand T20 clash at Eden Park next week could be canned as officials monitor lingering COVID-19 cases in Auckland.

Tens of thousands of fans face disappointment should cases from the recent Valentine's Day outbreak push the government to raise alert levels.

New Zealand is currently at alert level one - with no caps placed on gathering sizes or movement - but alert level two would mean the match cannot go ahead with fans.

But even at alert level one, Australian players may refuse to play.

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The touring party of 18 have already quarantined for a fortnight after landing in New Zealand.

After a long summer of cricket in various bubbles and lockdowns, they are understandably in no mood to quarantine again.

The key issue is the response of Australian state governments to Auckland's outbreak.

Australia's eastern states have allowed travellers from New Zealand to enter without having to quarantine since late last year.

However, they have turned restrictions back on - just for Auckland - in response to the Valentine's Day outbreak.

If those restrictions remain for Auckland-based travellers as of next week, when the tour heads to NZ's biggest city, Cricket Australia (CA) will consider their options.

"No one wants these blokes to quarantine twice," a CA source said.

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if Auckland is considered a red zone, CA will lobby New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to abandon or shift the game.

At this stage, NZC is not entertaining the prospect.

"Our position is, at level one it's business as usual, at level two we play behind closed doors, at level three, we don't play," NZC public affairs manager Richard Boock told AAP.

"We have no plan to change venue from Eden Park."

CA may also need to arrange a new flight home for the players.

They are currently booked on a Qantas flight from Auckland on Monday, but will seek to make alternate arrangements if that doesn't go ahead or if boarding that flight would require players to quarantine.

There have not been cases in Wellington or Tauranga - the host cities for game three on March 3 and game five on March 7 - for months, meaning those games are considered locked in.

It remains to be seen whether either party softens their position ahead of the hotly-anticipated March 5 clash.

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The last time the sides met at Eden Park, Australia made a world record T20 chase of 245 to win.

Tens of thousands of tickets have been sold for the encounter, which is also hugely important to cash-strapped NZC.

In the mean time, contingency planning goes on in the background - and everyone is praying for no new community cases.

There was some good news on Saturday with health officials announcing no new cases in the past 24 hours.

But that may not last with a person who later returned a positive test going to work at an Auckland KFC earlier this week when they were supposed to be isolating.

The Valentine's Day cluster, originally three cases, has spread to 12 people in the past 15 days.

The difficult situation is also faced by Australia's netballers, who play a four-match Constellation Cup series next week.

However, as the Diamonds' matches are scheduled in Christchurch and Tauranga, they can avoid Auckland - until a flight home.

Finch relief after run of outs ends .
Australia captain Aaron Finch says he has been buoyed by the support of selectors, coaches and teammates to end his long T20 dry spell.Finch made 69 against the Black Caps as Australia cruised to a 64-run victory, for the first success of their New Zealand tour.

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