Coronavirus-free New Zealand could become neutral Test venue: Players body chief

In April, the ECB CEO Tom Harrison had confirmed offers from New Zealand and Australia, also one of the least affected countries, to host county cricket.

Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted she did a 'little dance' after the country was declared COVID-19-free on Monday.   -  AP

With New Zealand declaring itself virus-free, the country could emerge as a sought-after neutral venue for Test matches, reckons Heath Mills, chief executive of the Players Association.

International cricket came to an abrupt halt in March with the coronavirus spreading all around the world. India had also played its last series in March, against host New Zealand.

“I could see New Zealand operating as a neutral venue,” Mills said. “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,” Mills was quoted as saying by I Newspaper.

On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifted most of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic after no active cases were reported.

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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 three-Test series against the West Indies in bio-secure environment. However, there are questions over the feasibility of playing under a bio-bubble on a regular basis.

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