Coronavirus newsfile: Mumbai umpires offer support to local scorers, match officials

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April 3

Mumbai umpires offer support to local scorers, match officials

In Mumbai, a group of former umpires have come together to financially support local match officials and scorers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has brought all sport to a halt. Led by former Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) managing committee member and ex-BCCI umpire Ganesh Iyer, the group has so far raised INR 2.5 lakh ($ 3300 approx.).

"We umpires have formed a group 'Lending a Hand' to help umpires and scorers whose livelihood depends on cricket," Iyer told PTI on Thursday. "We appealed to the members to contribute voluntarily. We have also identified those scorers and umpires, whose livelihood is dependent on local matches.

"By Friday, 47 umpires and 15 scorers - a total 62 persons - would have been given the first amount of Rs 3000 each, the process of payment began yesterday through credits directly into their bank accounts and the next installments (would be given) in next 7-10 days."

According to MCA tournament coordinator Abhay Hadap, a scorer and an umpire gets INR 1,500 and 2,000 per day per match respectively. Given the MCA suspended all matches from March 14 to April 14 due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown, the income of the match officials has copped a severe blow.

"There were at least 25 incomplete tournaments this season as the matches go on till May end. For example, remaining matches of the Corporation Shield were still to be played," Hadap said. "When the knockouts are played there are at least 120 matches. Also there were 10-15 private tournaments that were yet to be completed. So, yes the losses for umpires and scorers are huge."

New Zealand women's tour of Sri Lanka postponed, men's tours 'unlikely'

New Zealand Cricket CEO David White has said that while the national women's tour of Sri Lanka, originally set to begin later this month, has been postponed, the men's tour of Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and the West Indies, slated through June-July earlier, is "unlikely" to take place.

"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 in a video press conference.

"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."

April 2

The South Africa men's squad, which returned from the incomplete tour of India on March 18, has completed a 14-day period of self-isolation but, along with the rest of the country, will remain in lockdown for the next two weeks.

"All the players were symptom-free and those who opted to perform the tests returned negative results," Dr Shuaib Manjra, CSA's chief medical officer, said.

CSA's focus is now on maintaining the players' fitness regime, a challenge during the nationwide stay-at-home. South Africa is on day seven of a 21-day nationwide lockdown, which prohibits leaving home except to buy food or medicine and does not allow for any outdoor exercise. While that provides time for players to work through any lingering injuries, it is also important that they maintain their fitness levels, and fitness trainer Tumi Masekela has sent them all training programmes.

"We've got time now to work with players in terms of addressing the small niggles that they may have. They have got time to rest and also to do the strength work. But the one big thing is the running volume, the aerobic capacity base, which I am going to try and build up in the next two weeks, so that means lot of running, or a lot of cardio work, cycling or swimming," Masekela said.

Most of the players have access to home gyms and would be able to continue their routines. But what about regular folk, like us, who don't have a treadmill at home? "Just try and do 20 minutes of exercise. Whether it be 100 push-ups in 20 minutes, burpees, lunges squats, running up and down the stairs or using skipping rope, please do that," Masekela said. "Use this time to release endorphins, which is your natural happy pill, which is something everybody could do with."

April 1

Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh lent their support to Shahid Afridi's charity foundation that is raising money to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan.

The Shahid Afridi Foundation has been distributing food and sanitation packs among the poor to help them tide over the crisis. One pack consists of essential food items such as flour, rice, lentils alongwith sugar, salt, cooking oil and soap. The foundation says the amounts distributed are aimed at letting a family of five sustain itself for 15 days. To continue distributing these, the foundation is raising money through donations, which Yuvraj and Harbhajan urged the public at large to take part in.

"All of humanity should be united at this time, and be together while helping each other," Harbhajan said in a video posted on his Twitter page. "I would like to congratulate Shahid Afridi's Foundation, who have done really good work to keep humanity alive.

"I would like to tell you all to stay at home, stay safe, stay with your families. Listen to what your governments are telling you and don't venture out of your house. Hopefully, together we will eradicate coronavirus from the world."

Yuvraj echoed Harbhajan's words and said he had the same message to give to everyone. "At this time, everyone has to work together and stay together," he said, also posting a video on his Twitter page. "People have faced a lot of difficulties, and lots of poor people aren't getting food to eat. As Harbhajan said, the SAF foundation in Pakistan, which is Shahid Afridi's foundation, is doing a lot of good work and helping a lot of poor people. So please donate."

Afridi thanked both Indian cricketers, saying "this bond we have shows love and peace transgresses borders when it comes to humanity especially."

March 30

BCB announces one-time monetary support to women cricketers

The BCB will pay Bangladesh's women cricketers BDT 20,000 (US $250) each, similar to the one-time payment given to a section of the country's men cricketers earlier in the week. Those who appeared in the 2018-19 Women's National Cricket League as well as a recent training camp will receive this amount.

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said the payment will help out cricketers stuck at home without any competitive cricket or training due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"Just like their male counterparts, the majority of women cricketers also look towards domestic events for an earning," Hassan said. "Besides, we had training camps scheduled for women players which have been hampered by the prevailing COVID-19 situation. The cricketers have been forced to pass a period of non-activity and they need our support."

The BCB postponed all its activities on March 16, and is unlikely to renew tournaments and training camps until the situation eases. Hassan said the board would take a call in April about the men's Dhaka Premier League tournament. "We are going to maintain the highest level of caution," he said. "We don't know where, when or how it will end. I think after April there may be a chance to talk but before that I don't think that there is an opportunity to talk about sports."

Lord's offers facilities to NHS staff

Lord's is to put its prime positioning in central London to good use by offering up its unused facilities to NHS staff and the city's nearby hospitals.

MCC has provided 75 parking space at Lord's for staff at Wellington Hospital, University College Hospital, and the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. The club is also providing storage areas for the Wellington Hospital, which is situated on the northern side of the ground and has been known to use the Nursery Ground as an emergency landing area for its Air Ambulance helicopters.

In addition, the club has provided food to City Harvest London, an organisation that seeks to redistribute fresh surplus food to those in need

"We are continuing to work closely with our local community, hospitals and organisations to offer support as best we can during this period," said the club in a statement.

March 28

BCCI to contribute INR 51 crore to fight coronavirus pandemic

The BCCI along with its affiliated state associations will contribute INR 51 crore (USD 6.8 million approx.) towards the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund to help India fight the coronavirus pandemic.

"The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is first and foremost a public health emergency and the BCCI has a firm resolve that the nation gets all possible help to cope with the testing times," a BCCI release said on Saturday.

BCB announces one-time payment for non-contracted DPL players

Non-contracted players from this season's Dhaka Premier League will get BDT 30,000 (US $375 approx.) from the Bangladesh Cricket Board as part-compensation for the tournament being postponed till April 14. The players who are eligible for this one-time payment are those not in the central contract, first-class contract or the newly-formed Under-21 group.

The 2019-20 Dhaka Premier League was postponed on March 19 after just one completed round of matches in compliance with the directive from the Ministry of Youth & Sports, and measures taken by the Government to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

BCB president Nazmul Hassan made the announcement on Saturday evening, after several out of contract cricketers voiced their concerns about their livelihood.

"With the tournament looking at an indefinite period of shut down, cricketers who are not part of the BCB's contracts are likely to face financial hardship, as they may have only received partial payment from their respective Premier League Clubs. This assistance is for that section of the players," said Hassan.

The Bangladesh government went into shutdown from March 25 to April 4, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knight signs up for NHS volunteer scheme

England captain Heather Knight has signed up to be a National Health Service (NHS) volunteer during the coronavirus outbreak.

Knight only returned from Australia, where she led England to the semi-finals of the Women's T20 World Cup, 10 days ago and is now living under the UK's lockdown rules with her boyfriend in Bristol.

She revealed in her BBC column that she had volunteered for the scheme that will see people support the health service by delivering food and medicine, transporting patients to appointments and making calls to those in isolation.

"I signed up to the NHS's volunteer scheme as I have a lot of free time on my hands and I want to help as much as I can," Knight said. "My brother and his partner are doctors, and I have a few friends who work in the NHS, so I know how hard they are working and how difficult it is for everyone."

March 27

ICC working on contingency planning

The ICC has said that it is carrying out "contingency planning" to "adapt" to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic that has forced a majority of the world into lockdown. However, ESPNcricinfo understands no definite plans were discussed at the meeting which took place on Friday via conference call.

In a media release issued later, the ICC said that its management would continue to keep the member countries updated on the way forward for various ICC events that have been affected due to the pandemic: the ongoing World Test Championship, the World Cup ODI Super League which is scheduled to begin from May and the men's T20 World Cup, which is scheduled for October-November in Australia.

"We continue to undertake a comprehensive business continuity and contingency planning exercise which will allow us to adapt to the rapidly evolving world in which we find ourselves," the ICC's press release said. "The ICC management will continue our contingency planning around ICC events and will also work with Members to explore all options available to us based on a range of scenarios connected to the pandemic."

As reported on Thursday, the ICC Board along with the Chief Executives Committee are scheduled for quarterly meetings in May to discuss a range of back-up plans based on how the pandemic continues to develop.

Friday's conference call also was the first time former India captain Sourav Ganguly attended the ICC Board meeting as representative of the BCCI of which he is the president.

Irish season delayed until May 28

Cricket Ireland have confirmed the postponement of their home season until May 28, in line with the announcement made by the ECB last week.

"The postponement of the start of the season will allow us to observe government directives and public health protocols, and ensure the welfare and safety of our volunteers, players, staff, coaches, and families within the cricket community, and we will take all necessary actions to do our part in limiting the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19)," read a statement.

The board is developing scenarios for what the domestic season might look like once operations can be resumed.

Ireland's series against Bangladesh in May has already been postponed, while New Zealand's tour - scheduled to begin on June 19 - appears to be in doubt. Further down the line, Pakistan are due to play two T20Is at Malahide in July, though the venue's head groundsman Phil Frost has been temporarily repatriated to England and the ground is shut.

"While we note that Malahide Cricket Club is 'making alternative arrangements to ensure upkeep of the grounds' while closed, we shall continue to monitor the state of readiness of the ground to host international cricket once restrictions are lifted, and will liaise with the club accordingly in the coming weeks," said Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland's chief executive.

March 26

Centrally contracted players contribute 5 million to fight coronavirus in Pakistan

PCB's centrally contracted players will collectively contribute PKR 5 million to the government's emergency fund to fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan. In addition to the players' contribution, PCB's senior staff will also add their bit, with those who are at senior manager ranks donating one day's salary and those who are at the rank of general managers and above donating two days' salary. In addition to that the PCB, as an institution, will match the contribution of its staff to the government fund.

Pakistan is presently in a semi lock down state with the country having over 1,100 confirmed coronavirus cases. The number of cases surged rapidly in the past seven days - as has been the pattern with the global pandemic in other countries - as Pakistan saw nine deaths and 21 recoveries.

All the Pakistan players are in self-isolation at home while the overseas coaching staff have been released so that the can return home. Bowling coach Waqar Younis, who is based in Sydney, is presently quarantined by the government in Australia after returning from Pakistan upon completing his commentary stint in the PSL.

"The Pakistan Cricket Board has always stood with the people of Pakistan in desperate times," said PCB chairman Ehsan Mani. "This is one of the gravest, most challenging and unprecedented times, which our local and federal governments and health workers are having to face with. While we continue to pray for the well-being and success of our health workers so that normality returns to our society, we at the PCB are making a small contribution which will support the government in its endeavours against the COVID-19 pandemic."

The PCB had also offered the use of their high performance centre in Karachi to paramedics working at the Expo Centre, which has become a makeshift hospital.

ICC postpones qualifying events for Associates

The ICC has announced that all its pathway qualification events for Associate members as part of the 2021 T20 World Cup and 2023 Men's World Cup have been postponed until the end of June, pending a reevaluation of the status of the coronavirus pandemic at that time. This includes all regional qualification events for the 2021 T20 World Cup Qualifiers as well as multiple ODI and List A series as part of the 2019-2022 Men's World Cup League Two and Challenge League for Associates.

The ICC had previously announced earlier this month that the League Two ODI tri-series scheduled for April 1-8 in Florida between USA, UAE and Scotland had been postponed. Thursday's announcement confirms the postponement of an ODI tri-series in Namibia that included Nepal and Scotland from April 20-27 as well as an ODI tri-series in Papua New Guinea including Nepal and UAE that was scheduled for June 9-16. As for T20 World Cup regional qualification, six events that were due to be held between April and June - spread between Kuwait, South Africa, Spain, Belgium, Malaysia and Finland - have also been postponed. The ICC stated that nine other pathway events scheduled for the second half of the year - three ODI tri-series in League Two, two Challenge League tournaments, and four T20 World Cup regional qualification tournaments - are being continually monitored with relevant stakeholders.

The 2021 Women's World Cup Qualifier, which is scheduled to be held from July 3 to 19 in Sri Lanka, is also under monitoring.

Lauren Winfield, Amy Jones stuck in Australia

England women cricketers Lauren Winfield and Amy Jones are both stuck in Australia with worldwide travel restrictions in force due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Winfield was in Hamilton Island on the Great Barrier Reef, celebrating her honeymoon after her marriage to long-term partner Courtney Hill. Jones was in Perth. Both have found themselves stranded in Australia, and are currently unable to return home with borders closing.

"I was supposed to fly home on Friday," Winfield told The Independent. "But my flight has been cancelled. Everything through Dubai, Emirates, has been cancelled for the next two weeks. They are reassessing in two weeks' time. But rumours are it could be up to two to three months. At the minute I have a flight on the 8th (April), but I feel like that's just going to come around and it'll get pushed back and back."

Iain O'Brien launches fundraising appeal

Iain O'Brien, the former New Zealand fast bowler, has launched a funding page in a bid to return to his family.

O'Brien, who now lives with his wife and two daughters near Matlock in England, was visiting his parents in New Zealand when the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic struck.

While he has already booked three flights home - some of them eye-wateringly expensive - the airlines subsequently cancelled. The delay in refunding the cost of such bookings has eaten deep into O'Brien's resources.

Bangladesh cricketers face uncertain future

Many professional cricketers in Bangladesh are worried about losing their entire income for the season, with the uncertainty around the remainder of the Dhaka Premier League continuing. Around 60 players who play in the league, but are not part of the BCB list of contracts - central or first-class - face a tricky next many days because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has stopped cricket around the world.

March 25

Bangladesh cricketers pool money to help combat crisis

Bangladesh's premier cricketers have contributed 50% of their monthly salaries to a fund that has been put in place to deal with the COVID-19 situation in the country. All the centrally contracted players and others who played against Zimbabwe this month have pooled in BDT 26 lakh (US$ 32,500 approx.) for the cause.

The country is in lockdown following the death of four people and reports of 44 other being infected. The government has directed around 15,000 people around to country to go into self-isolation, and to ensure that happens, the army has been deployed.

Cricketers have also gone into self-isolation, and the likes of Mashrafe Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan have delivered messages on social media for people to stay at home.

Space at Eden Gardens made available as a medical facility

The indoor training facility and the players' dormitory at Eden Gardens have been made available to the West Bengal state government as a temporary medical facility to deal with the COVID-19 situation, Sourav Ganguly has said.

"If government asks us, we will certainly hand over the facility. Anything that is need of the hour, we will do it. There is absolutely no problem," BCCI president Ganguly, who was the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal earlier, was quoted as saying by PTI.

Similarly, the Cricket Association of Pondicherry has offered the dormitory at its Tutipet campus as an isolation facility for COVID-19 patients.

"We stopped cricketing activities due to outbreak of coronavirus. We can offer these facilities to house up to 30 infected patients if need be with necessary medical tie-up through Laxmi Medical College," a letter from the association to the governor of the union territory of Puducherry said.

ECB offers customised home-training packages to premier cricketers

With no cricket likely in the immediate future, the ECB has offered customised home-training packages to Joe Root and Heather Knight's teams to help them stay in shape. The packages include equipment such as ropes, resistance bands, a medicine ball and a kettle ball.

"I'm an active person anyway, with my young son keeping me busy, but having a structured plan will help me improve in certain areas," Root was quoted as saying by AFP. "While it has been good to get some downtime after our return from Sri Lanka, keeping my fitness up is really important so I can be at the top of my game when we get back on the field."

Knight said it was not ideal but one had to find ways to stay in shape.

"We'll all just be doing what we can to maintain our levels and, hopefully, be as ready as we can when we get back playing, whenever that comes," Knight said. "It's obviously not ideal, but it's a great way of trying to stay in shape and keep ticking over."

CWI extends suspension of all domestic cricket

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has called off all its domestic tournaments this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after earlier suspending all cricket until mid-April. The board, following a teleconference of the board of directors on Tuesday afternoon, cancelled the last two rounds of matches of its first-class competition and announced Barbados as the winners.

Barbados were leading the points table of the four-day competition with a tally of 134.8, followed by Trinidad and Tobago (94.6), Guyana (91.8), Jamaica (91.8), Windward Islands (78) and Leeward Islands (52.8).

In a statement, the board said it was acting on the guidelines of its medical advisory committee. The other tournaments and camps to be immediately affected were the Women's Super50 Cup (postponed to later this year), Regional Under-19s Women's T20 Championship (postponed to later this year), Regional Under-15s Boys Championship (cancelled for 2020), West Indies Under-15s Tour to England in the summer (cancelled for 2020), high performance and international preparation training camps (cancelled until at least May 31, 2020).

"All around the sporting world we are faced with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic," Johnny Grave, CEO of CWI said. "Cricket, cricketers and all our stakeholders involved in the game have been affected at various levels and we must continue to work to together and act responsibly in containing the spread of the virus.

"Ten days ago, we suspended our tournaments and camps for 30 days and now we have extended that suspension until the end of May as well as reluctantly cancelled some tournaments and tours in their entirety. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation and make further decisions and announcements in due course."

Grave also said that CWI has put systems in place to make sure its staff follow the necessary protocols as outlined by its medical advisory committee and the World Health Organisation. The board also reinforced the importance for all territorial boards and local cricket associations to follow the advice of their respective ministries of health.

March 24

Kent have become the first county to take steps to offset the financial implications of the delayed English season by announcing that their executive directors have voluntarily accepted a short-term pay cut of 20%.

With the UK entering a phase of enforced lockdown in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and little prospect of any cricket taking place before June at the earliest, counties have begun to assess their day-to-day running. Kent have assembled a COVID-19 taskforce and are in talks with the local council to discuss terms of a loan repayment, among other measures.

The club's executive directors - including chief executive Simon Storey and director of cricket Paul Downton - offered to take a pay cut in order to send a positive message. "We feel these are exceptional circumstances," Storey told ESPNcricinfo. "We will find a way through this for Kent."

With many counties leading a precarious financial existence, there have been warnings that a drastically reduced 2020 season could threaten the viability of some. However, the question of players also taking a cut in pay is a step that would likely need to be agreed with the Professional Cricketers' Association and the ECB.

March 23

PCB turns Karachi training facility into lodging area for paramedics

The Pakistan Cricket Board has offered the use of their high performance centre in Karachi to paramedics working at the Expo Centre which has become a makeshift hospital.

PCB Chief Operating Officer Salman Naseer said: "All the paramedic staff are our heroes as in these challenging and difficult times, they are risking their lives to save the lives and well-being of many affected by COVID-19.

"As a small token of our appreciation and acknowledgement to these unsung heroes and as part of our duty of care, the PCB is pleased to offer its state-of-the-art Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre as a temporary lodging and boarding for the paramedic staff working at Expo Centre hospital so that they can serve those suffering from COVID-19 more effectively and efficiently."

No discussion about moving CPL 2020

The global cricket schedule - as with most other things around the world - has been thrown out of gear by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) organisers are hoping to get the competition going on schedule in August-September this year.

"CPL has been in constant communication with our medical advisors in recent weeks, as well as speaking with Cricket West Indies about the current situation with regard to cricket around the world, and at present there has been no discussion about moving the event," a CPL statement said. "CPL believes it is too early to make such a decision, but this is an evolving situation and we are carefully watching how events unfold in the Caribbean and around the world."

That said, they are also discussing contingency plans for the event, slotted for August 19 to September 26: "At present the CPL team are planning for the tournament to take place as scheduled whilst also looking at alternative plans should they be needed."

ICC shuts headquarters, to 'convene remotely' to discuss urgent matters

The International Cricket Council has shut down its headquarters in Dubai and moved to a work-from-home policy from this week in response to growing concerns around the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.

The governing body of the game, led by chairman Shashank Manohar and chief executive Manu Sawhney, is preparing for a video conference on Friday to address urgent board matters around the way the cricket calendar is being impacted by the pandemic, which has already delayed the start of the IPL and also severely affected the outlook for the coming English season in particular. The men's edition of the T20 World Cup is scheduled to be played in Australia in October and November, placing it hard up against a raft of measures the Australian government has indicated will need to be in place for at least six months.

"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 of March via conference call only," the ICC said in a statement on March 12. "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."

We need to think about others, not just ourselves - Usman Khawaja

Australian batsman Usman Khawaja on Saturday spoke bluntly on social media about the need for society as a whole to put others first in their consideration of how to handle COVID-19, which has spread virulently across the globe.

"Just because the mortality rates for Covid-19 for many isn't high, doesn't mean you should have a blasé attitude. It's our responsibility as a society to think about the elderly and the social and economical cost this will have on so many lives. We all need to do our part," he wrote on Twitter. "The more seriously we take it, then hopefully, the quicker we can get through it and the less amount of lives that are affected both medically and financially. We need to think about others, not just ourselves."

Similarly, Test captain Tim Paine had spoken about Cricket Australia's decision to bring an early end to the home season, awarding the Sheffield Shield to New South Wales and advising against the conclusion of community competitions - though stopping short of an outright ban.

"There's no doubt this has been a big week for our cricket community, a really big time for Australians," Paine said. "Some decisions have been made in the best interest of our country, and its most vulnerable people. Those decisions were certainly not made lightly and have been made on the best possible advice from our government and from health experts.

"I hope we are all back playing the game we love and going about our lives the way we want to as soon as possible, but in the meantime, please take of yourselves, take care of others and ride this out together."

Cricket Association of Bengal insures players, officials

The Cricket Association of Bengal has made changes to its insurance policy to cover Bengal players and match officials against the threat of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

"A couple of days ago, our president Mr Avishek Dalmiya initiated this," CAB vice-president Naresh Ojha told ESPNcricinfo. "The policy covers all our players and umpires."

SLC to grant LKR 25 million to government

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has decided to grant LKR 25 million to the government to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday noon, Sri Lanka had approximately 85 active COVID-19 cases in the country. All domestic cricket in Sri Lanka has been suspended to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

March 22

Kumar Sangakkara in self-isolation after Colombo return

Kumar Sangakkara has confirmed he is currently in self-quarantine in Colombo, as per the Sri Lanka government's guidelines for those who have recently returned from Europe.

He made the revelation amids substantial concerns that those who have recently returned to the island have not been checking in with the police and maintaining proper isolation. In fact, the government even confirmed there have been at least three cases of recent returnees attempting to hide COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) symptoms from authorities, with one of those returnees going as far as to expose medical staff - among others - in a local hospital.

"I have no symptoms or anything like that, but I'm following government guidelines," Sangakkara told News First on Sunday. "I arrived from London over a week ago and the first thing was there was a news bulletin saying that anyone who had traveled from within March 1 to 15 should register themselves with the police and undergo self quarantine. I registered myself with the police."

Both Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have been active on Twitter and Instagram, urging Sri Lankans to avoid panic and to exercise proper social distancing, as the country went into curfew on Friday evening. Several present cricketers have also emphasised the need for social distancing on their own social-media accounts.

As of Sunday afternoon, Sri Lanka had 78 active COVID-19 cases in the country. There are fears, however, that that number could shoot up rapidly, as there had been potential mass-infection events over the past 10 days. This includes the "Big Match" cricket encounter between St. Thomas' College and Royal College last weekend, which attracted tens of thousands of spectators over three days, one of whom has since been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.

Jason Gillespie goes into two-week isolation

Jason Gillespie, the former Australia fast bowler who's now the head coach at Sussex, has returned home and gone into two weeks of self-isolation. Gillespie had been in Cape Town with the Sussex team for a pre-season tour, which was cut short as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

March 21

Ireland-Bangladesh series postponed due to COVID-19

Bangladesh's tour of Ireland and England in May has been postponed due to the COVID 19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. Three ODIs and four T20Is were scheduled to be held in Ireland and England from May 14 to 29. It was an expected call after all cricketing activities in England was shut down until May 28; the T20Is were slated for The Oval, Chelmsford, Bristol and Edgbaston.

Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said that it was a decision taken after discussion with the BCB.

"Once the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic was understood, and the advice of both governments and partner boards was sought, it became increasingly unlikely that this series could proceed as scheduled," Deutrom said. "We have a responsibility to protect the wellbeing of players, coaches, fans and the wider community, and will not hesitate to take a safety-first approach to our operations over coming months. We will continue monitoring the situation, and will liaise as necessary with relevant sports bodies, public health agencies and our stakeholders here and abroad, and provide further updates on the home season in due course.

"We would like to thank the Bangladesh Cricket Board for their helpful cooperation in reaching this decision, and we shall work with them at establishing new dates for the series when we are all in a position to plan for the future with greater certainty."

Ireland's tour of Zimbabwe was recently called off, as well as the one-off ODI and second Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan in Karachi, scheduled for the start of April.

All domestic cricket in Sri Lanka postponed

Sri Lanka Cricket has postponed all domestic cricket in the country as the nation went into an island-wide curfew on Friday, to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

This, amid concerns that a local cricket match did play a role in community transmissions in Sri Lanka. The Big Match - an annual school encounter between the purported elite boys' schools S. Thomas' College and Royal College - was played between March 12 and 14, with tens of thousands of spectators in attendance at the SSC. One of those spectators has since tested positive for COVID-19, and all those who came into contact with him have been asked to self-isolate.

March 20

Majid Haq tweets news of positive coronavirus test

Former Scotland offspinner Majid Haq was diagnosed with Coronavirus. He said in a post on Twitter that he was heading back home after having tested positive. "Looking forward to potentially getting back home today after testing positive with Coronavirus. Staff at the RAH in Paisley have been good to me & thank you to everyone who has sent me messages of support. Insha Allah the Panther will be back to full health soon. #covid19UK"

Haq has played 54 ODIs and 21 T20Is, but last played for Scotland only in 2015.

March 19

The PCB has confirmed that all the 128 COVID-19 tests it had conducted on March 17, the day when the PSL was postponed, have come back negative. On Tuesday, the PSL was suspended after Karachi Kings' Alex Hales had developed symptoms of the coronavirus.

"It was absolutely critical for the integrity and credibility of the HBL Pakistan Super League and the Pakistan Cricket Board that all players, support personnel, broadcasters and match officials, those who had decided to stay back till the end of the tournament, tested negative for COVID-19," PCB CEO Wasim Khan said.

"In this background, the PCB is pleased with the outcome of the results and happy that all these players and officials have rejoined their families without any health and safety doubts or concerns. The PCB will continue to put in place precautionary measures to better safeguard the health of its employees."

March 18

Self-isolation for South Africa cricketers

The South Africa team left India with their ODI series unfinished, and the players have since been asked to go into self-isolation for a period of two weeks.

"We have recommended that all players either self-isolate or social distance them for a minimum of fourteen days," the team's chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, said. "That would be the proper way to protect people around them, the community, their families and in particular, the vulnerable people in their families. In this period, should anyone develop such symptoms or any other factor that is a cause for concern, we will ensure that they are investigated appropriately and managed as per the protocols that are currently existing."

European Cricket League postponed

The European Cricket League (ECL) has been forced to postpone the second staging of the tournament until 2021.

ECL20 was scheduled to start on May 31 at La Manga Club in Spain, featuring 16 clubs from 15 different countries spread over eight days. Over 300 players and officials were due to travel to Spain for the event with fans also expected to attend from all over Europe.

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-final

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,

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