Coronavirus newsfile: Hales confirms COVID-19 symptoms, yet to be tested

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March 17

Hales confirms COVID-19 symptoms, yet to be tested

Alex Hales has confirmed he is self-isolating at home after developing symptoms of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) following his return from the Pakistan Super League.

The PSL's organisers confirmed on Tuesday morning that the competition's semi-finals and finals had been postponed indefinitely after a player had shown symptoms of the virus.

"Like many other overseas players, I reluctantly left the Pakistan Super League early because, with COVID-19 reaching global pandemic status, I felt it was more important to be with my family rather than face a period of lockdown thousands of miles from home," Hales said.

"I returned to the UK in the early hours of Saturday morning feeling perfectly fit and healthy and with absolutely no symptoms of the virus. However, I awoke early on Sunday morning having developed a fever and followed the government's advice of self-isolation, a process I am obviously still following having developed a dry and persistent cough.

"At this stage, it has not been possible to be tested although I am hopeful that might be the case later today [Tuesday] so that I can get absolute confirmation of my current health status."

BCCI shuts offices

A Press Trust of India report says that all of the BCCI's employees have been asked to work from home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic from Tuesday.

"The BCCI employees were today notified that the headquarters at the Wankhede Stadium will be as good as closed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. All the staffers have been advised to work from home. However, if someone still wants to come, they can," PTI quoted a BCCI official as saying.

The report further said that the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru has also stopped its zonal camps. The rehabilitation programmes at the NCA were still currently ongoing, as on Monday.

Additionally, IPL franchises who had been conducting pre-season camps have called them off.

PSL playoffs postponed hours before first semi

The Pakistan Super League, which had tweaked the original schedule to shorten it by four days with an eye on the worsening COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation, has been postponed.

According to a tweet by the official PSL handle, the semi-final games, which were scheduled to be played on Tuesday, and the final, which was to be played on Wednesday, will be rescheduled. Soon after the news became public, Salman Iqbal, the owner of Karachi Kings, one of the four sides in the semi-finals, told ESPNcricinfo, "I have been asking for it to be postponed for the past two days, as we [PSL] was the only cricket going on. But, anyway, it's a very good decision by the franchise owners and the PCB management." ESPNcricinfo also caught up with Sameen Rana, owner of Lahore Qalandars, another of the sides to have qualified for the final four, who said, "We respect the PCB decision. The health and safety of players and officials is of utmost importance. It's unfortunate, but considering the situation, we understand the rationale."

New South Wales named Sheffield Shield winners

New South Wales have been named the Sheffield Shield champions after the final was cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic.

They were well out in front during the regular season of the Sheffield Shield having already secured hosting rights for the final with six wins in nine matches before the abrupt end to the season. Victoria, the defending champions, were in second spot with Queensland also pushing hard to contest the final which would have been played in Wollongong.

March 16

Six Surrey players told to self-isolate

Surrey have announced that six of their players are self-isolating as a precautionary measure. The players involved have not been named.

The club said that "not all six have reported symptoms", but they had been told to remain at home for the rest of the week due to proximity amid fears about the spread of coronavirus in the UK. The rest of Surrey's squad will continue to train in the indoor school at The Oval.

Surrey last week announced the cancellation of their pre-season tour to Dubai, among several such disruptions to counties preparing for the 2020 summer.

CSA suspends all cricket

Cricket South Africa has suspended all cricket, professional and amateur, for the next 60 days after the country's president Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster of Sunday. Widespread measures across the country, which include a travel ban on people from high-risk areas, and a prohibition of gatherings of over 100 people, have now halted sporting events, with the Premier Soccer League, Super Rugby and the Two Oceans Marathon also suspended.

That means the ongoing franchise one-day cup competitions semi-finals and final, which were due to take place this week, will not be played; neither will the final two rounds of the first-class competition, scheduled to run from late March into early April. CSA has yet to announce whether they will declare a winner for either.

The Dolphins are atop the one-day cup table with seven wins from their 10 round-robin matches and were due to play the Warriors in the first semi-final, with the second-placed Lions scheduled to play the Knights. Those matches will not take place. In the first-class competition, thought to be particularly important as South Africa look to name a new Test captain following Faf du Plessis' stepping down, the Lions lead the pack.

Semi-professional cricket, including the three-day first-class competition and provincial one-day cup, which are both at their closing stages, has been stopped as well as amateur cricket such as club fixtures. In Cape Town, the Western Province Cricket Association office has been closed until further notice and the over-50s World Cup called off. South Africa men's ODI trip to India was postponed after just one match and they return home on Wednesday morning while the women's side's series against Australia, due to take place this month, has also been put back.

Lynn leaves PSL

Shortly after his matchwinning century for Lahore Qalandars, Chris Lynn said he was heading back to Australia and would miss the knockouts. On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced enhanced restrictions on all international travellers entering the country with them required to self-isolate for 14 days.

In an Instagram post, Lynn wrote: "Thoroughly enjoyed my time at the @thepsl unfortunately in these circumstances I've chosen to head home, I've always said there is more to life than cricket and this is certainly one of these cases. I have full faith in the @lahoreqalandars to go all the way but more importantly have fun lads! Thank you to everyone involved, Pakistan you have been a blast."

Final leg of Bangladesh's tour of Pakistan called off

The Pakistan and Bangladesh cricket boards have agreed to postpone the upcoming third leg of their series, of one ODI and and Test in Karachi in early April, in light of growing concerns around the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and travel restrictions around the world.

Ireland tour of Zimbabwe to be rescheduled

Ireland's six-match tour of Zimbabwe, scheduled for April, has been postponed despite Zimbabwe having yet to report any cases of COVID-19. The two countries agreed that the risks involved in traveling, amid the growing threat of coronavirus worldwide, has necessitated a rescheduling of this series.

The teams were due to play three T20s and three ODIs, all in Bulawayo. Though the Irish government has not put in place is a travel restriction or prohibition to Zimbabwe at the moment, both countries agreed on a safety-first approach.

"We were looking forward to hosting Ireland in Bulawayo next month, but with the world in the throes of a public health emergency on a scale not witnessed in over a century, postponing the tour was the only reasonable decision,"Givemore Makoni, Acting Managing Director of Zimbabwe Cricket said. "We are looking to reschedule the tour once the pandemic has been brought under control."

Domestic cricket in Zimbabwe was active until 10 days ago, with the final two rounds of the Logan Cup scheduled to begin this weekend. The government has set up an isolation facility in the capital Harare but their biggest concern comes from their southern neighbours, South Africa, home to more than three million Zimbabweans and with 62 cases of confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Dhaka Premier League halted

The Dhaka Premier League, Bangladesh's domestic 50-over tournament, has been halted due to the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The BCB's announcement came hours after the government had shut down schools, colleges and universities till March 31.

Two rounds have already been completed in the Dhaka Premier League so far, with all 12 clubs having played one match each. This is the second cricketing event that has been affected by the coronavirus in Bangladesh, after the Bangabandhu birth anniversary T20Is were deferred.

Sussex return early from Cape Town

Sussex have become the latest county to curtail their pre-season tour and will return from Cape Town as soon as possible.

Sussex Cricket performance director, Keith Greenfield said: "We have been monitoring the fast-moving situation regarding Coronavirus prior to and during the tour and, with travel restrictions increasing, we've made the decision to return to the UK at the earliest opportunity. This is obviously disappointing, but - as ever - the well-being of our players and staff is our number one priority."

March 15

Over-50s World Cup cancelled over demographics concerns

The Over-50s World Cup has been called off into its third round after the tournament's medical committee said "it is a public health risk decision" in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is sweeping the world. "The decision was taken for the protection of the players, given their age demographic, but also for the local population given that 95% of known cases in South African have come from travellers," Dr Parag Pandya, the head of the medical committee of the tournament, said. The coronavirus' fatality rate is highest among older adults, especially those above the age of 50.

A Cricket South Africa release said the decision was made when the third round of matches were ongoing, and the matches were abandoned after the first innings. The release also stated that seven off the 11 visiting teams have been staying in the same Cape Town hotel and appropriate precautions have been taken. They will remain there until further arrangements are made.

'I just had a very very mild cold' - Lockie Ferguson after coronavirus concerns

The New Zealand fast bowler had to be under self-isolation after reporting symptoms of sore throat following an ODI against Australia on Friday. But his COVID-19 tests came back negative and as a result he has been able to return home.

March 14

The BCCI has put the remainder of the 2019-20 domestic season on hold until further notice. This includes the flagship Irani Cup fixture between the newly crowned Ranji Trophy champions Saurashtra and the Rest of India, which was scheduled to be played in Rajkot from March 18 to 22.

The other tournaments that will not go ahead as scheduled are the Senior Women's One-Day Knockout, the Senior Women's One-Day Challenger, the Women's Under-19 One-Day Knockout, the Women's Under-19 T20 League, the Women's Under-19 T20 Challenger Trophy, the Women's Under-23 Knockout, the Women's Under-23 One-Day Challenger, and the Vizzy Trophy (50-overs inter-zonal universities tournament).

West Indies suspends all cricket

Acting on the recommendation of its Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), Cricket West Indies has taken the decision to suspend all its tournaments and face-to-face group meetings from March 16 onwards, for a minimum of 30 days.

The tournaments affected are:

Last two rounds of the West Indies Championship
The Women's CMI Super 50 Cup
Regional Under 15s Boys Championship
Regional Under 19s Girls Championship

All urgent CWI Board matters will be addressed via teleconference.

Dr Israel Dowlat, the CWI's chief medical officer, said: "The health and safety of our players, officials and staff, are of paramount importance to CWI and we have advised the Board of Directors to take proactive policy steps to decrease the growing risk of contamination and spread of the virus."

Dr Donovan Bennett, the chairman of MAC, said the decision was in accordance with medical best practice and an "abundance" of caution.

"We are acting based on medical best practice as well as in an abundance of caution. The ongoing gathering of even small groups of spectators, cricketers and match officials could pose a risk to some persons of contracting the virus and being stranded in quarantine in a non-resident country for a prolonged period. Clearly this pandemic is still evolving, and we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the Caribbean."

CSK suspend practice, players sent home

Chennai Super Kings have suspended their practice and their players are set to return home, joining the rest of the cricket world as they take precautions against the spread of the coronavirus. The three-time IPL champions have been training for the upcoming season since the start of March. But with the severity of the outbreak growing, and with the BCCI postponing the tournament itself to April 15, the Super Kings wrapped up their camp on Saturday even though it was only due to end on March 19.

Ironically, just as people are being advised not to gather together in large groups, the three stands in Chepauk that have been sealed for the past eight years are open for use again.

BCCI to wait and watch before fixing IPL schedule

The BCCI and the IPL franchise owners have decided to adopt a wait-and-watch approach over when and how to hold the IPL. They want to give health and safety of the players and people involved in holding the IPL priority and are likely to discuss its schedule again after two-three weeks, depending on how the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation unfolds in India, where, as of Friday, two lives have been lost because of it.

Australia v New Zealand cancelled amid travel restrictions

The last two matches of the Chappell-Hadlee one-day series will not take place along with the three-match T20I series between the two teams in New Zealand later this month due to new travel restrictions imposed by the New Zealand government amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Saturday afternoon, the New Zealand government tightened border restrictions saying those entering the country from Australia would be subjected to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period.

March 13

Ferguson undergoes coronavirus test after reporting sore throat

New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson has undergone a COVID-19 test and been isolated from his team-mates for the next 24 hours after reporting a sore throat after the first ODI against Australia at the SCG. As with Kane Richardson, who after having a mild sore throat underwent a test before the game which came back negative on Friday evening, an abundance of caution is being taken given the current situation.

MCC v Essex game and World Cricket Committee meeting cancelled

The annual MCC Champion County match, scheduled to be played against Essex this year from March 24 to 27 in Galle, has been called off because of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) threat. Same is the case with the MCC World Cricket Committee meeting in Colombo, slotted for March 28 and 29.

"The health and safety of players, officials and supporters is our priority, and with the danger of infection beginning to increase in the UK, as well as the risk of quarantine for UK arrivals abroad and the potential of spreading the virus further, the decision has been taken for the match and the committee meeting to be cancelled," an MCC statement said. "The club would like to stress that the decision we have made has not been taken lightly, however with health and safety of paramount importance, it was agreed that it was a risk not worth taking.

"A visit to Sri Lanka remains very much in MCC's plans and we hope to organise a trip to the country in the near future."

The MCC v champion county fixture that has been a staple of the English season since 1970, in recent years has moved to centres like Abu Dhabi, Barbados and Dubai. Kumar Sangakkara, who became the club's first overseas president last October, was supposed to lead the MCC side, and the match would have started a day after England's first Test in Sri Lanka, also in Galle. That series, too, stands cancelled because of the same reason.

India v South Africa ODI series called off

The three-match ODI series between India and South Africa has been called off in response to fears around the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision follows the move by the BCCI earlier on Friday to defer the IPL by around a fortnight, and amid similar decisions regarding other cricket tours and tournaments.

The first match of the series, in Dharamsala on Thursday, was washed out.

IPL 2020 deferred until April 15

IPL 2020 has been deferred until April 15 following the global concern over the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. The decision to postpone the tournament, which was scheduled to start on March 29, was taken by the BCCI top brass lead by its president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah and top management of the IPL in the wake of the advice given by various arms of the Indian government.

The IPL sent the communication to all eight franchises on Friday, saying it would meet the owners on Saturday in person in Mumbai to further debrief on the matter.

England tour of Sri Lanka postponed

England's Test tour of Sri Lanka has been called off at the request of the ECB, due to the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, but on the understanding that it will be rescheduled at a later date.

The news came while England were playing their final four-day warm-up match, ahead of the two-Test series which had been scheduled to get underway in Galle on March 19. Play continued for a few minutes after the announcement, before the players left the field at 3.40pm local time.

The match was duly abandoned with the Sri Lanka Board President's XI on 150 for 3 in their first innings.

Netherlands tour to Namibia cancelled

Delhi bars all sports activities in the city

The Delhi government has announced its decision to bar all sports activities in the capital city in the wake of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) threat.

An order signed by Padmini Singla, the Health and Family Welfare secretary to the state government, has directed that all sports gatherings "including IPL", conferences and seminars with attendances of over 200 are prohibited within Delhi. This, however, might mean that the IPL could still go ahead if played behind closed doors.

""We have banned gatherings at sports events," Manish Sisodia, Delhi's deputy chief minister, said in a press conference. "If the BCCI comes up with a new format [of organising the IPL], then it is up to them. We have only banned gatherings."

As far as the IPL is concerned, Delhi - home to Delhi Capitals - is scheduled to host its first game on the second day of the tournament, on March 30 against Kings XI Punjab, with six further home games in April and May.

A meeting between the IPL governing council and representatives of the eight franchises is scheduled for tomorrow but, as ESPNcricinfo reported yesterday, there is a strong possibility of the IPL being a severely restricted tournament this year, with at least some part of it played to empty stands.

While the central sports ministry said it would not stop sporting events from taking place as long as they adhere strictly to governmental guidelines, discouraging mass gatherings, the external affairs (foreign) ministry has gone a step further, saying its advice is to not go ahead with the tournament at this time, but the decision has been left to the organisers.

CWC League 2 series in Florida postponed

The sixth series of the Cricket World Cup League 2, set to begin on April 1 in Florida, has been postponed by the ICC because of COVID-19 fears.

The ODI series was scheduled to be held at Broward County Stadium in Fort Lauderdale with hosts USA, Scotland and UAE playing each other twice each till April 8.

Chris Tetley, the ICC head of events, said, "We have been monitoring the sixth series of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup League 2 very closely, with recent travel restrictions being imposed globally and uncertainty for participants returning home, we have taken the decision to postpone the series.

"Working closely with USA Cricket, Cricket Scotland and the Emirates Cricket Board, all parties felt the best decision was to postpone and together we will find an alternative space in the calendar to reschedule the series."

Kane Richardson isolated after reporting sore throat

Kane Richardson will miss the first ODI against New Zealand at the SCG having been tested for COVID-19 after reporting a mild sore throat to Australia's medical team yesterday. Richardson, who returned from South Africa earlier this week with the rest of the ODI squad, has been isolated for the time being and results of the test are expected this afternoon. It is understood that Richardson is feeling fine and concern in the Australia camp is low

Australia-New Zealand ODIs to be played behind closed doors

Concerns among Australia's players about potential exposure to coronavirus in front of large crowds of spectators were a factor in Cricket Australia's decision to play the one-day series against New Zealand behind closed doors, with the T20I matches at the end of the month in New Zealand are in doubt. The two ODIs in Sydney on Friday and Sunday and the final match in Hobart on March 20 will take place as scheduled but spectators won't be admitted.

England Test schedule in doubt as UK moves to COVID-19 'delay' phase

England's Test tour against Sri Lanka is currently "planned to continue" in spite of the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, but their home Test series against West Indies in June, as well as the T20 Blast, is under threat, with both events scheduled for a period that the UK government has identified as the likely peak of the virus in the country.

March 12

ICC Board to hold March meeting via conference call only

The ICC Board has decided to hold its next round of meetings, scheduled for end of March in Dubai, via "conference call only". The ICC announced on Thursday that in light of the continued spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and amid concerns expressed my its members, they will convene remotely to consider matters for urgent decision only and hold the full meetings in May.

"In light of the continued global spread of COVID-19, concerns expressed by Members and mindful of the importance of taking mitigating measures against the virus, the ICC Board, has decided to hold its meetings scheduled for Dubai at the end March via conference call only," the ICC said in a statement.

"The Board and a number of committees will convene remotely to consider matters for urgent decision only, with the full meetings rescheduled for early May. This will be kept under constant review in line with advice from relevant authorities as the health and well-being of staff and those attending the meetings remains our priority."

The ICC meetings are scheduled to be held over the March 26-29 weekend and is an important one, given that the body wants to get on with the bidding process it has drafted for global events in the 2023-31 cycle of the Future Tours Programme. Also on the agenda is finalising the playing conditions for the ODI League which will start in May 2021.

Earlier this month the members of the Asian Cricket Council were scheduled to meet in Dubai to discuss the venue for the Asia Cup, but that too was deferred due to concerns about the coronavirus.

Australia Women won't tour South Africa as scheduled because of coronavirus

Australian Women's tour to South Africa, scheduled to consist of three ODIs and as many T20Is, and due to start on March 22 will not take place as scheduled as part of the preventative measures against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). This is the first major international series which will not take place as scheduled because of the virus.

Karachi games of PSL to be played behind closed doors

Karachi Kings' match against Lahore Qalandars on Thursday will be the last PSL contest at the National Stadium to be played in front of a crowd. In a bid to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, the PCB announced, following advice from the provincial government, that all remaining games at the National Stadium will be played to empty stadiums. At the time of writing, the number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan stood at 21, with the bulk of them originating in Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital.

It is one of a number of steps the PCB is taking, including urging all players to avoid shaking hands with each other and urging fans not to approach players for photographs and autographs. "Following developments in the past 24 hours, the PCB has decided to take a proactive approach and put in place precautionary measures to better safeguard the health and safety of all those who will be involved in the upcoming matches," the PCB's chief executive officer Wasim Khan said.

Fans will be refunded for tickets purchased. The fate of the fixtures in Karachi had been in doubt for a number of days since the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Karachi on February 26, but on advice from the government, the decision was made to proceed with the games in front of packed stadiums. As such, the game between Karachi and Lahore on Thursday was attended by a full house. The decision represents something of a U-turn, which will affect four matches in Karachi.

Last two ODIs of India-South Africa series to be played behind closed doors

The remaining two ODIs of the ongoing series between India and South Africa will be played to empty stadiums. The development comes in the wake of the Indian government directing the BCCI and other national sporting federations, including the Indian Olympics Committee, on Thursday to "avoid" mass gatherings at sporting events as it takes steps to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Lucknow will be hosting the second ODI on March 16 and Kolkata the final ODI on March 18.

Last day of Ranji Trophy final to be played in empty stadium

As a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus, the fifth day of the ongoing Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal in Rajkot will be played in front of empty stands.

On the basis of a directive from India's Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and as advised by the BCCI, Saurashtra Cricket Association took the decision to not allow spectators inside the stadium for Friday's play. As per a release from the association, only the following people are allowed for the final day.

  • Both teams

  • Support staff of both teams

  • Match officials

  • TV & radio crews

  • Officials, support staff and service staff of the association

  • Accredited media persons

Road Safety World Series postponed

The Road Safety World Series T20 tournament, which features five teams comprising retired greats including Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, has been "postponed", as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The tournament was supposed to see 10 league matches, of which four had been played, followed by a final at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on March 22.

The organisers had earlier announced on Thursday morning that the remaining games would be played behind closed doors but it later emerged that the tournament was called off.

The move comes in the wake of the Maharashtra government deciding to cancel all public gatherings, including political meetings and conferences, in order to check the spread of the coronavirus.

IPL 2020 likely to take place behind closed doors

It is now a strong possibility that IPL 2020 will take place behind closed doors, in light of the coronavirus threat, with the Indian government indicating it will not stop sporting events from taking place as long as they adhere strictly to health-ministry guidelines discouraging mass gatherings.

Fan who attended Women's T20 World Cup final tests positive

A fan who attended the T20 World Cup final at the MCG on Sunday night has tested positive for coronavirus. The fan was seated at the stadium's Northern Stand.

"The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), as ground managers of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), is aware that a person who attended the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Final at the MCG on Sunday March 8 has now been diagnosed with COVID-19," a statement on the Melbourne Cricket Club website said. "The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has advised of the patron's diagnosis and has classified it as a low-risk of spreading COVID-19 to surrounding members of the public and staff. The patron sat on Level 2 of the Northern Stand at the MCG in section N42.

"The DHHS recommends that those who were seated in N42 at Sunday's event should continue to go about their normal routine, with an increased focus on hygiene measures, and should any flu-like symptoms emerge to consult with a medical professional.

"The MCC is working closely with the Government and the DHHS and the advice is to operate business as usual, including hosting major events, however are prepared should that change at any stage. The MCC is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for those visiting the MCG and as a precautionary measure have undertaken intensive cleaning of the affected section."

A crowd of 86,174 attended the final between Australia and India, only 4,641 short of the record for a women's sporting event, set during the 1999 FIFA World Cup final in Pasadena.

Notts cancel friendly due to Northants' Singapore tour

Nottinghamshire have cancelled a planned pre-season friendly against Northamptonshire and replaced it with a game against Lancashire amid coronavirus fears.

Northants are currently in Singapore on their pre-season tour, where there are at least 178 recorded cases of coronavirus. They had considered alternative venues after the outbreak but travelled after consultation with the ECB, and head coach David Ripley told the Northamptonshire Telegraph that any non-cricketing activities had been cut, meaning "we are pretty much going to be at the hotel and then the cricket venue".

Under current UK government advice, returning travellers from Singapore should self-isolate for 14 days if they experience any symptoms of the virus, however mild. ESPNcricinfo understands that none of the players on the tour has experienced any health issues and that the mood in the squad is good.

Lancashire are one of four counties to confirm the cancellation of an overseas tour to date (Surrey, Worcestershire and Somerset are the others), while it is understood that some of Hampshire's squad have not travelled to La Manga as planned. Essex have travelled to Abu Dhabi and a spokesperson said there was "nothing to report" regarding any possible changes to their schedule, while Yorkshire arrived in Mumbai this morning.

March 11

ICC board meeting in March under coronavirus cloud

The status of the next set of ICC board meetings is in doubt due to travel restrictions emanating from the coronavirus epidemic that has disrupted movements across the globe. The ICC meetings were scheduled to be held over the March 26-29 weekend in Dubai and is an important one, given that the ICC management wants to get on with the bidding process it has drafted for global events in the 2023-31 cycle of the Future Tours Programme.

Not everyone is on the same page as the ICC, however, with the BCCI, ECB and several other boards wary of adding extra ICC events into the next cycle, which would eat into their bilateral calendar. Although the events were approved by the ICC Board last October, the BCCI and ECB have since raised strong objections and now want to re-open consultations on the additional events before moving ahead on the bidding process. Also on the agenda are finalising the playing conditions for the ODI League which will start in May 2021.

But the impact of the coronavirus in the UAE, where a number of sporting events have either been cancelled or played behind closed doors, and schools have been shut, means that the ICC, as well as its members, are monitoring and reviewing the status of those meetings. The UAE has also put in place travel restrictions on individuals traveling in from certain countries. The country has so far reported 74 cases of people being infected.

If the ICC meetings are postponed, it will be the second time a key cricket meeting has been taken out of Dubai. Earlier this month the members of the Asian Cricket Council were scheduled to meet there to discuss the venue for the Asia Cup, but deferred due to concerns about the coronavirus.

The ICC's final decision is expected either tomorrow, or next week but alternative options could include postponement or video conferences.

Can't avoid fans but can avoid going 'much closer' to them - Bhuveshwar Kumar

On the eve of the ODI series opener between India and South Africa in Dharamsala, visiting captain Quinton de Kock and the returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar touched upon the precautions that the two teams have taken amid fears of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

CSA's chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra has made the trip with the team, and Kumar said that India's team doctor is also making sure the players are fit and healthy.

"A few dos and don'ts he [the doctor] has asked us to do: simple things like hygiene, keep washing your hands and when it comes to going closer to the fans and all those things, you cannot avoid because they love us, support us," Kumar said. "In the meantime, we can try to be and not say no to them but we can choose not to go much closer to going into the public, so we can avoid as much as we can and keep wearing masks and gloves and all those things."

When asked if India will still go ahead and shine the ball with the saliva, Kumar said, "We have thought about this thing [not using saliva] but I can't say right now we will not use saliva because if we don't use saliva then how will we shine the ball. Then we will get hit and you people will say you are not bowling [well]."

As for de Kock, he said that South Africa won't mind using their saliva to shine the ball. "We've been tested [for coronavirus] on our way in here, but think we will still shine the ball," he said. Our team doctors and management have made sure all are fit and don't have coronavirus. So, we will tend to that and will keep the ball shining."

BCCI releases list of precautions for India to follow

The Indian board on March 11 shared a list of precautions for India, the visitors South Africa and for the general public who will watch the ODI series.

All public toilets at match venues will be "stocked with hand wash liquids and sanitizers" while medical staff and first aiders at the ground will keep a track of those feeling unwell on match day. Apart from that, the Indian team management has been educated on the standard healthcare guidelines including "washing hands with soap for 20 seconds" and "covering mouth while sneezing or coughing."

The management has also been told not to indulge in selfie opportunities, interactions and eating out at restaurants "where hygiene standards are unknown." They have also been told to inform the medical team immediately if they feel unwell. Hotels and airlines that will be used by the players during the series have also been issued a mandate to sanitise their surroundings.

World XI v Asia XI matches postponed amid coronavirus fears

The global spread of the coronavirus has claimed another international sporting fixture with the Bangladesh Cricket Board postponing the World XI v Asia XI matches that would have marked the birthday celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, referred to as father of the nation.

These matches were scheduled to take place on March 21 and 22 in Dhaka and were set to include a variety of superstars including Virat Kohli, Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle, but the BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced on Wednesday that they had been "deferred" until further notice".

England ban selfies with fans amid Coronavirus fears

England's cricket team will refrain from taking selfies with fans and limit public engagements on their tour of Sri Lanka amid the global Coronavirus outbreak.

The team also asked "all supporters joining the tour to maintain good levels of hygiene" as advised by the World Health Organisation Britain's National Health Service to avoid possible infection and spreading of illness in a statement released by the ECB on Wednesday.

"Following the world health agency's advice, and in order to protect the players and, in turn, the integrity and continuation of the Sri Lanka Test tour, the team has put in place several precautions, leading to a number of normal activities being cancelled for the foreseeable future," the statement said.

"England players and staff have been asked to avoid any unnecessary public engagements, and temporarily avoid casual supporter interaction such as selfies or autographs. Whilst we acknowledge that this will be disappointing for some supporters, we stress that this a measure to protect the ongoing wellbeing of the England Test squad and is a decision which has not been taken lightly."

England players and staff will continue to replace handshakes with fist bumps in an attempt to minimise contact.

PSL games to go ahead in Karachi as scheduled

The PCB has confirmed that the PSL matches in Karachi will go ahead as scheduled amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

"In this background, we are satisfied with the feedback the Sindh government has provided and the support it has assured," a PCB statement said. "At the same time, the PCB has promised the Sindh government that it will work very closely with its commercial partner and support wherever it can to assist in the health and safety of the spectators.

"The PCB now looks forward to a strong turnaround at the Karachi matches as the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 enters a critical phase with five of the six sides fighting for places in the play-offs."

According to reports, there have been 16 cases of the virus in Pakistan so far, with nine new cases identified in Karachi.

Asia XI v World XI: BCCI to review situation in Dhaka

The coronavirus threat has cast doubts over the two-match T20I series between an Asia XI and a World XI in Dhaka, planned as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation of Bangladesh.

Six Indians, including Virat Kohli, are expected to play a part in the tournament, and the BCCI is adopting a wait-and-watch policy on the matter.

BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has been quoted by the New Indian Express as saying: "Players from western countries are also scheduled to participate. With regard to our players' participation, we'll review the situation and take a call accordingly. In my knowledge and as of now, the Bangladesh Cricket Board has not officially intimated the BCCI in this regard. Anyway, whoever is dealing with the issue must be keeping a close watch on the developments."

Surrey and Worcestershire cancel pre-season tours

Surrey and Worcestershire have decided to cancel their planned pre-season trips to Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively, after weighing up the risks associated with Coronavirus.

Surrey's director of cricket, Alec Stewart, said: "While it's disappointing we won't be able to return to Dubai this year, the health of our players and staff is paramount ... current uncertainties around travel and potential quarantine periods, either abroad or in the UK, mean this trip would simply be too disruptive to our preparations for the 2020 season."

March 10

South Africa and India are likely to avoid shaking hands with each other during their three-match ODI series, which starts on Thursday, and will exchange fist bumps instead as a precaution against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The 11-day tour is going ahead after CSA conducted an expert assessment of the risk of traveling given the growing number of global coronavirus infections, and deemed it safe for the team to transit through New Dubai and Delhi and play in Dharamsala, Lucknow and Kolkata. The team has been briefed on precautionary measures and CSA's chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, will be traveling with the team.

Other than the lack of handshakes - which will also be the case for England in Sri Lanka - South Africa have not been given any other specific instructions. They will continue to interact with fans and have even taken some photographs with them, including selfies. - Firdose Moonda

March 9

One ticket per person for first T20I - BCB reacts to concerns

The BCB has restricted the sale of tickets - one per person - for the first T20I between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, to be played later today in Dhaka, in a bid to "discourage public gathering" following concerns about the spread of COVID-19. With one person being sold only one ticket, the target is to keep the crowd to one-fifth of the capacity at the 25,000-seater Shere Bangla National Stadium.

March 6

CSA going forward with India tour after medical advice

South Africa's tour of India for three ODIs will go ahead after the organisation completed a risk assessment regarding the spread of COVID-19 across the world. While South Africa reported its first confirmed case of the virus on Thursday, India's health ministry has estimated infections are affecting around 30 people. But a team of experts have deemed the country and the team's transit routes safe for travel. CSA's chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra will make the trip with the team.

March 5

Everest Premier League postponed

The Everest Premier League, Nepal's foremost franchise T20 tournament, has been postponed following a government directive to refrain from mass gatherings amid fears about the transmission of COVID-19.

March 3

No handshakes for England in Sri Lanka

England's players will not be shaking hands with one another on their tour to Sri Lanka, captain Joe Root has revealed, using "the well-established fist bump" as a greeting instead.