New Zealand’s winter tours of the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland and the West Indies are in serious doubt as the COVID-19 outbreak bites deeper into the world sporting calendar.

Speaking to media today, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White also confirmed the postponement of the White Ferns visit to Sri Lanka, scheduled to start later this month, and said it was “most unlikely” the Blackcaps would proceed with their Northern Hemisphere and West Indies tours, planned for June and July. While he said there were obvious question marks over New Zealand’s visit to Bangladesh, and the New Zealand A tour to India, both scheduled to start in August, it was too early at this point to categorically rule them out.

“Clearly, this situation is extremely disappointing for everyone involved in sport but, given the bigger picture, and the terrible toll COVID-19 is taking worldwide, we need to look after not only our own people but the greater community good,” White said. “Cricket in New Zealand has been fortunate in that we were very much at the end of our home summer programme when this crisis struck.

“However, with the lockdown now in full force, we’re mindful of the difficulties facing our cricket community. Our current focus is very much on ensuring the future sustainability of cricket in New Zealand.”

NZC was applying for the Government Wage Subsidy Scheme to assist in navigating the next 12 weeks. The scheme supports employers adversely affected by COVID-19 so they can continue to pay their employees during the lockdown. Additionally, NZC staff and management had agreed to essentially exhaust their leave entitlements over the balance of the financial year (to July 31) by switching to a four-day working week.

“We take our duty of care as an employer seriously and, at this juncture, want to avoid any changes to our employee headcount or remuneration levels,” he said. “However, we’ll continue to closely monitor the effects on the wider cricket family.”

White said that, over the next few months, NZC would be working closely with all its stakeholders to plan for the various scenarios that may be feasible next season, including community, domestic and international options. On a more positive note, White confirmed the ANZ New Zealand Cricket Awards, initially called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak, would be reinvented in the form of a digital and mainstream media campaign over the week of Tuesday, April 28th.

“Although the future is uncertain, we’re determined to be well-prepared for whatever opportunities arise,” he said. “We look forward to recognising and congratulating our outstanding players, officials, volunteers, coaches and administrators for the 2019-20 season in a fitting way, despite the restrictions and limitations of the current climate.”