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New South Wales have been named the Sheffield Shield champions after the final was cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a move that had been likely for some days following the abandonment of the final round of matches, Cricket Australia confirmed the decision on Tuesday as they also "strongly recommended" that cricket at all levels was cancelled while they also closing their offices.
New South Wales 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.
Speaking in Melbourne on Tuesday, Cricket Australia chief executive said that New South Wales' considerable lead in the table had made their decision easier.
"When we were assessing it relative to the Shield final there were a number of questions, where do we play the final, if we don't play the final, is the final postponed, do you not declare a winner," he said. "I think it was perhaps helpful while we had after round nine five of the six states still in contention to win the Shield, which was fantastic, we did have New South Wales 12 points clear at the top of the table, so credit to New South Wales and to be open that probably made our decision-making a little easier, given that they had such a gap on the field."
Regarding CA's recommendation that all cricket be stopped, Roberts said. "I'm conscious that around the country a lot of cricket clubs existed in the 1800s, well before Cricket Australia was formed. Over that very long period of time they've been led by really capable voluntary administrators who are leaders in their communities. We've got a role to be informed from the likes of the government and other experts and to then provide advice and recommendations, but it's the role of those leaders, who we trust and have trusted in some cases for well over 100 years, to make the best decisions for their communities based on their advice just as we're seeking to do for cricket more broadly."
All Cricket Australia staff will now work remotely until further notice. While the major impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit at the end of the Australian season - forcing the scrubbing of the last two Chappell-Hadlee ODIs when New Zealand had to return home due to tightened travel restrictions which also meant the postponement of Australia's T20I tour - it would appear that this will not be a short-term situation. CA's next big decisions will involve involvement of their players at the IPL should the tournament go ahead then the tours of Bangladesh in June and England in July.
"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," Roberts said in an earlier statement. "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.