CA scraps Shield final, recommends club cricket halt

Ladder-leaders NSW declared champions, Cricket Australia recommends club and community cricket closes down amid coronavirus concerns

New South Wales are the 2019-20 Marsh Sheffield Shield winners after Cricket Australia today cancelled the Shield final today amid the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

CA has also "strongly recommended" that all amateur cricket in Australia - from club cricket through to premier cricket - stop immediately.

"By effectively cancelling the remainder of our season, Cricket Australia is playing its part in protecting fans, players, staff, volunteers and match officials during this unprecedented global health issue," said CA CEO Kevin Roberts.

"These are difficult decisions, but the right ones in the circumstances.

"Many will no doubt be disappointed that the Sheffield Shield, Premier Cricket and Community Cricket seasons won't have their traditional ending.

"That said, we congratulate New South Wales who were 12 points clear at the top of the table on being crowned Sheffield Shield champions. 

"As organisations around the world rally to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it's important that we also provide decisive leadership.

"We hope that by taking these actions now – in addition to those announced in recent days – we can contribute to 'flattening the curve' of coronavirus and society returning to normal as quickly as possible."

The announcement comes after the final round of the Shield season was cancelled on Sunday to limit domestic travel, though at that point the decider had remained a possibility.

However, meetings on Monday at CA headquarters in Melbourne resulted in the Shield final being cancelled, with the Blues – 12.23 points clear of second place Victoria – awarded the title, their first since 2013-14 and their 47th overall.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced sporting bodies all around the globe to postpone, suspend or cancel their competitions. 

Last Friday's first Gillette Series ODI between Australia and New Zealand was played at the Sydney Cricket Ground behind closed doors, with the hosts prevailing by 71 runs in front of empty stands.

The final two matches – to be played in Sydney yesterday and Hobart on Friday – were initially scheduled to go ahead, as was Australia's three-match T20 tour of New Zealand that immediately followed the Chappell-Hadlee series, but both campaigns have been postponed.

CA also postponed Australia's women's tours of South Africa – senior and Under-19s – and an Under-19 Indigenous tour to New Zealand.

Premier and community cricket

In a media release, Cricket Australia said the following: "CA has strongly recommended that all amateur cricket played within the community should cease including community cricket and premier cricket.

"While many competitions are coming to an end, we are mindful that some competitions are only just commencing however the recommendation applies to all competitions and training.

"This decision is consistent with the measures taken to safeguard professional cricket at the elite level and is supported by State and Territory Associations.

"Based on expert advice from CA's Chief Medical Officer John Orchard and recent government information we want to ensure that cricket is doing everything it can to contribute to the global effort to slow, and eventually stop, the spread of coronavirus. 

"While cricket is a relatively safe and non-contact sport there are considerable measures that need to be in place to adhere to expert advice around reducing the risk of spreading the virus. We focused specifically on minimising the risk and impact on the cricket communities that we lead and serve, as well as their families.

"Cricket Australia is continuing to work with State and Territory Associations to ensure we collectively provide ongoing support to local associations and the broader cricket community during this challenging and disruptive time."