Royal Park Reds played Indigos in the Mercantile Cricket Association finals at Parkville today, against the advice of the sport’s state and national governing bodies. (ABC News)
A suburban Melbourne community cricket competition’s finals matches are going ahead this weekend against the advice of the sport’s state and national governing bodies and despite the concerns of some teams and players.
- Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria have both “strongly recommended” that community cricket should cease after cancelling the state and national competitions
- The Mercantile Cricket Association is playing 12 finals games this weekend
- Three teams from two clubs have pulled out of the finals due to concerns about the coronavirus
An enforceable ban is currently in place for non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 or more people, but several sporting bodies have brought in their own social-distancing responses beyond those mandated by governments.
Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria this week decided to cancel all Premier and Sheffield Shield cricket finals due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Both bodies also “strongly recommended” that amateur cricket Australia-wide should cease.
However, the organisers of the Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) decided to go against that advice and finish off the final games of the competition’s season.
Mercantile Cricket Association match secretary Alec Khan said cricket’s state and national governing bodies may have “overreacted” to the threat of coronavirus. (ABC News)
MCA match secretary Alec Khan said grades A to D were playing a total of 12 matches today and tomorrow at grounds in Melbourne’s inner northern and southern suburbs.
“We feel that perhaps there’s been an overreaction by Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria. There will be severe action needed [to deal with the coronavirus] obviously but we should do that in a disciplined fashion,” Mr Khan said.
He said that the association would have cancelled the matches if required by government edict.
However, unless players were going to self-isolate there was on average less potential for them to spread the virus during the cricket matches than during their day-to-day lives, he said.
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He said cricket was a game that already involved a lot of “social distancing” and the players would otherwise be doing other unstructured activities.
“We don’t see that anything is gained by just simply displacing people,” he said. “You’re just going to disappoint a lot of cricketers. We don’t see any value in that.”
Mr Khan said not all participants in the MCA competition felt the same way and three teams from two clubs had pulled out of the finals.
“We’ve had a couple of clubs that have said, ‘We’re so concerned we’re pulling out of the grand finals’,” he said.
“Our rules are that they get replaced by the next team in line and those times have taken up the gaps. Obviously we have individual players who are very concerned.
“It’s not a unanimous thing but the overwhelming majority are prepared to play and feel it’s the right thing to do.”
Indigos Cricket Club player Kumar Janapareddy was happy to be in the MCA finals after playing hard for six months. (ABC News)
Kumar Janapareddy, from the Indigos Cricket Club, said he was happy to be playing in the finals.
“We played really hard the whole season and this is something that we’ve waited for for six months,” Mr Janapareddy said. “We know the situation and we know the conditions and I’m happy to play.”
“We are doing everything the government and the authorities have instructed us: not to shake hands, high fives, nothing like that, no passing the ball with the saliva. We are maintaining all those rules and keeping the hygiene and the care.”
A Cricket Victoria spokesperson said the body’s position was unchanged from earlier in the week.
“We strongly recommend all local cricket competitions cease activity in the interests of protecting players, staff, volunteers and match officials at all levels of Australian cricket during the global coronavirus pandemic,” the spokesperson said.