Tour review

Australia vs New Zealand in 2019-20

Andrew Wu

One-day internationals (3): Australia 1, New Zealand 0

The Chappell-Hadlee series had originally been scheduled for January, at the end of Australia's 3-0 Test whitewash of New Zealand, but India's insistence on hosting the Australians around that time pushed this trip back two months. The build-up to the one-day series had been underwhelming, as international cricket in Australia in March often is, with many fans turning their focus towards the football codes.

But the sight of an empty SCG for the first game had nothing to do with a lack of interest. A force had intervened that was even greater than the BCCI: Covid-19. Hours before the start of the scheduled three-match series, Cricket Australia took the drastic measure of banning crowds, part of a strategy to minimise the public's exposure to the virus. (That morning, Melbourne's Grand Prix was called off.)

Seamer Kane Richardson missed the game after reporting a mild sore throat, but tested negative, while interviews at the toss and after the match were conducted via Spidercam. Out of habit, Aaron Finch tried to shake his opposite number's hand at the toss, before realising his mistake: Kane Williamson smiled, and proffered an elbow, which Finch punched playfully. By the end of the game - won, almost incidentally, by Australia - the New Zealand fast bowler Lockie Ferguson also reported a sore throat; he, too, tested negative.

But the crisis was developing fast. The following day, the New Zealand government imposed stricter border controls, saying they would subject those entering the country from Australia to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period. With the controls coming into force at midnight, the New Zealanders had to head home immediately to avoid quarantine. The final two matches of the series could not be played, leaving the trophy - and cricket - in limbo. This was the last senior international match played anywhere until July 8, when the England v West Indies Test series began at Southampton.

© John Wisden & Co