Scotland willing to host New Zealand and Australia behind closed doors

Australia
Scotland were one win away from qualifying for the 2019 World Cup © Getty Images

Scotland are willing to host their scheduled games against New Zealand and Australia behind closed doors if necessary, but will wait on guidance from those boards and government advice before making any decisions.

While the fixtures are yet to be officially postponed, it looks highly unlikely that they will take place as planned, with New Zealand due to play a T20I on June 10 and an ODI on June 12, before Australia’s solitary T20I on June 29.

The first leg of New Zealand’s European tour – an ODI series in the Netherlands – was postponed last week following advice from the Dutch government, while Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom told ESPNcricinfo last week that the series looked “fairly doubtful”. Australia’s T20I in Scotland was due to be played immediately before their six-match limited-overs series in England, which looks likely to be pushed towards September.

“We’re planning our way through and waiting to see what happens with advice,” Gus Mackay, Cricket Scotland’s CEO, told ESPNcricinfo. “That’s all we can do at this stage. New Zealand aren’t going to Holland, and we’re just waiting to be guided by what their board says before we make any final decision.

“The whole Future Tours Programme is going to be disrupted, so we don’t know what that looks like. There’s been talk in the press of Australia coming over this way in September time, and New Zealand are supposed to go to Ireland as well. We’ve got to wait and see what comes out.”

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Scotland play their home games at The Grange in Edinburgh, and the board is making contingency plans to stage games behind closed doors at the ground if required.

“We have a temporary set-up at The Grange,” Mackay said. “If we got the go-ahead to play internationals behind closed doors, it’s something we’d consider and something we would be able to do.

“We do make money staging internationals, but if we had to play an international game behind closed doors it would definitely be feasible – the cost of temporary stands would be taken out of the equation.”

Cricket Scotland has warned that it will lose at least £250,000 in net revenue based on its forecasting at the moment, a figure which could grow “significantly” if the whole season is wiped out. The board’s cash reserves stood at £319,272 according to its latest annual report, and a statement said that “those reserves would be very rapidly exhausted unless action is taken now”.

The board has furloughed the majority of its staff, including players, through the UK government’s job retention scheme, but salaries will be topped up to 100 percent.

Mackay also suggested that the ICC will do “everything in their power” to ensure that the T20 World Cup will be able to take place as planned in Australia in October and November.

“It’s important from an ICC point of view that they deliver their events schedule to broadcasters and sponsors,” he said. “They’ll be doing everything in their power to make sure that it can take place.

“We’ve got to be realistic as to how things pan out. We’re in constant dialogue with the ICC and we’re waiting to see what happens – they provide a lot of finance into the business, not just for us but across the sport.”

The domestic cricket season in Scotland remains indefinitely suspended. A further decision will be taken only after the UK government issues further advice on a possible exit strategy from its lockdown on May 7. A meeting on the status of the Euro T20 Slam is also scheduled for that day. The tournament’s inaugural season is due to happen this summer following last year’s postponement, but its status is in doubt due to the pandemic.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98

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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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