Auckland and Northern Districts teams to miss first rounds of national cricket due to lockdown

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Ross Taylor and the Central Stags will open the Plunket Shield against Canterbury on October 23.

Kerry Marshall / Getty Images

Ross Taylor and the Central Stags will open the Plunket Shield against Canterbury on October 23.

Black Caps Ross Taylor and Tom Latham will face off in the opening match of the national cricket season, but four teams from the north will miss the opening rounds due to Covid-19 Alert Level 3.

New Zealand Cricket is the last sporting body forced to reshuffle its national competitions with the greater Auckland still at level 3, less than a month from the start of a busy season.

In its initial schedule released on Monday, the NZC confirmed that the Auckland and Northern Districts men’s and women’s teams will not play in October, in order to give them plenty of time to prepare for the game.

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Team training is not allowed under level 3, but is allowed under level 2 in which the rest of the country is located.

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Taylor will play his first competitive game since scoring the winning points in the World Trial Championship final against India in June, when the Stags open the Plunket Shield season against Canterbury in Christchurch on October 23.

Black Caps Latham, Henry Nicholls and Matt Henry, currently in controlled segregation following the abandonment of the Pakistan tour, will be available for defending champions Canterbury in the Hagley Oval match.

The Wellington Firebirds will host the Otago Volts in the other Plunket Shield game to open the season on Saturday, October 23.

The women of Brooke Halliday and the Northern Districts will see the start of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield season delayed due to Alert Level 3.

Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images

The women of Brooke Halliday and the Northern Districts will see the start of the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield season delayed due to Alert Level 3.

Auckland Aces will not open its Plunket Shield campaign until Round 3, starting November 7.

In the women’s Hallyburton Johnstone Shield (50-player competition), Central Hinds and Otago Sparks open the women’s season with a doubles program at Nelson’s Saxton Oval on October 30 and 31.

Last season’s HBJ finalists Auckland Hearts and defending champions Canterbury Magicians will also make delayed debuts in their campaigns, in a double weekend at the Mainpower Oval in Rangiora on November 6-7.

The Northern Districts Women have five Auckland-based players and will also open their summer the same weekend, November 6-7, against Wellington Blaze at Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval.

The White Ferns have just completed their England tour and, with managed isolation spots already booked, are expected to be available in time for the first matches of the national season as they focus on the Women’s Cricket World Cup in home from February.

The NZC have yet to confirm the Black Caps’ home schedule, with Bangladesh, the Netherlands and South Africa as expected opponents, starting in late December.

NZC chief executive of cricket operations Catherine Campbell said in a statement: and the well-being of all participants are protected.

“The schedule changed until yesterday [Sunday], and may well change again if Auckland’s Level 3 lockdown continues. We will cross this bridge when we get there. We are convinced that we have room in the calendar to catch up with the games as we wish. “

Tom Latham and Canterbury will host the Central Stags in the first game of the national season on October 23.

Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images

Tom Latham and Canterbury will host the Central Stags in the first game of the national season on October 23.

A new feature of the men’s Ford Trophy will see the first four rounds (12 matches) be played on weekdays between Twenty20 Super Smash weekends.

The NZC has confirmed that the men’s and women’s Super Smash competitions will be played primarily on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this season, with details to be revealed in the coming weeks.

Entering its 51st summer, the Ford Trophy season (men 50 and over) will run from November 30 to February 26. The Hallyburton Johnstone Shield final is scheduled for February 19, while the four-day eighth round of Plunket Shield action kicks off in March. 28 to close the season.

Campbell said the March 31 end date would reschedule Auckland games affected by the lockdown in early April.

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