Cricket Ireland has cancelled an interprovincial T20 scheduled for Wednesday because of concerns about a possible Covid-19 “chain of transmission” to the Bob Willis Trophy match between Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire that was abandoned at the weekend.
The T20 between Munster Reds and Northern Knights was due to take place in Cork, but was called off before the Knights travelled down on Tuesday. Cricket Ireland said that Paul Stirling, the Ireland batsman who has been playing for Northants in the Vitality T20 Blast, had come into contact with some Knights players and although he was not part of the squad the game would not go ahead.
Northamptonshire have maintained largely separate red- and white-ball squads, and have not revealed the name of the player whose positive test led to the Bristol abandonment. However, three of his flatmates are part of the T20 set-up along with Stirling, who had taken advantage of the break in Blast fixtures to return home to Belfast.
Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth said that they had been waiting for confirmation from Northamptonshire that the three had all tested negative, but one result had not come back time.
“While highly unfortunate, we have taken a risk management approach to our decision,” Holdsworth said. “There is absolutely no suggestion that Paul has contracted the virus, but until all three tests of his Northants team-mates have been returned, we don’t know conclusively whether the chain of transmission has been broken.
“This is a case of a ‘close contact of a possible close contact’, but while Paul is somewhat removed from the player who tested positive, we left the decision on the game as late as possible to see whether Northants had received the test results of Paul’s team-mates.
“Paul wasn’t in the squad for tomorrow’s game but had been in contact with some Knights team-mates over the weekend. Given the lengthy bus trip the Knights have to take for the match in Cork, they were heading down today and staying overnight in Cork. We delayed the bus departure time as long as we could hoping Northants would get the test result, but it didn’t come in time, so we reluctantly had to cancel the trip as a precaution.
“These are unprecedented actions, but we are concerned first and foremost with protecting the health and safety of players, staff, match officials, volunteers and those family members close to the players.”