Cricket Ireland (CI), on Monday, announced the cancellation of the Inter-Provincial T20 match between Munster Reds and Northern Knights over concerns regarding coronavirus.
The decision came in the wake of the abandonment of the Bob Willis Trophy match between Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire after a member of the latter’s squad tested positive for the dreaded virus. Cricket Ireland announced that three of Ireland star Paul Stirling’s white-ball teammates at Northants are flatmates of the positive player and hence, they made the decision of cancelling the match.
“Cricket Ireland has taken a safety-first approach and cancelled tomorrow’s Test Triangle Inter-Provincial T20 match between Munster Reds and Northern Knights as a precautionary measure that relates distantly to the recent positive test of a player at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club,” Cricket Ireland said in a statement.
“It was reported in the UK media yesterday that a Northants player was self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. While Irish international Paul Stirling is not a ‘close contact’ of that player, three of Stirling’s white-ball teammates at Northants are flatmates of the positive player. All three have been tested, with two coming back negative, but one test result is still unknown,” it added.
The cricket board further stated that as Stirling had returned to Belfast before the news about the positive case was known, after consulting with teams and local organisers, they made a “safety-first decision” to ensure there was no risk to the Northern Knights squad.
Richard Holdsworth, High-Performance Director of Cricket Ireland, said that while cancelling the game is unfortunate, the authorities have taken a risk management approach for their decision.
“While highly unfortunate, we have taken a risk management approach to our decision. There is absolutely no suggestion that Paul [Stirling] has contracted the virus, but until all three tests of his Northants teammates have been returned, we don’t know conclusively whether the chain of transmission has been broken,” Holdsworth said in a statement.
“This is a case of a ‘close contact of a possible close contact’, but while Paul is somewhat removed from the player who tested positive, we left the decision on the game as late as possible to see whether Northants had received the test results of Paul’s teammates,” he added.
Although Sterling was not in the squad for the game, Holdsworth said the player had been in contact with some Knights teammates over the weekend.
“Paul wasn’t in the squad for tomorrow’s game but had been in contact with some Knights teammates over the weekend. Given the lengthy bus trip the Knights have to take for the match in Cork, they were heading down today and staying overnight in Cork. We delayed the bus departure time as long as we could hoping Northants would get the test result, but it didn’t come in time, so we reluctantly had to cancel the trip as a precaution,” he said.