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Black Caps home season likely to start mid-November as cricket schedule takes shape

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Captain Kane Williamson and his Black Caps after the 2-0 test series win over India.

New Zealand Cricket is bullish about opening a full home international season in mid-November, with four men’s sides touring and the Women’s World Cup going ahead as scheduled in February.

Dormant since mid-March when their tour of Australia was abandoned amid Covid-19, the Black Caps’ tour of Bangladesh scheduled for August was the latest series to be canned this week as the world’s cricketing hiatus continues.

West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia are all pencilled in to tour New Zealand in 2020-21 under the International Cricket Council’s Future Tours Programme, and pending the green light from the Government around Covid-19 protocols it looks positive for home fans.

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Sophie Devine says a smaller cricket ball would help the women’s game flourish.

“I’m very confident we’re going to have a full season of international cricket,” said NZC chief executive David White.

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The international schedule won’t be finalised until after the ICC annual conference on July 17, when a decision is expected to be made on the men’s Twenty20 World Cup, scheduled for Australia in October-November.

All signs point to it being postponed, with the mega-wealthy Indian Premier League increasingly likely to slot into that time frame.

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Captains Aaron Finch of Australia and Kane Williamson of New Zealand are likely to meet again some time in the home summer.

“We are in limbo until then, but we are very advanced in terms of talking to the countries that are scheduled to come here: West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia,” White said.

Talks were under way for England to tour New Zealand but White said that would not be happening and they would largely follow the FTP blueprint. Home tests against Australia were also in the early mix, but have been ruled out.

A draft schedule has West Indies and Pakistan playing two tests apiece, and limited overs matches, followed by Bangladesh and Australia for limited overs series only. The Black Caps will also cross the Tasman for three ODIs and a T20 international between January 26 and February 2.

Assuming the IPL is given the green light in closed stadiums, reports in India say it will run from September 26 until November 8. White said if the IPL goes ahead, NZC would keep the window open for Black Caps to play in it, then schedule the first international for later in November.

As it stands five current Black Caps – Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham and Lockie Ferguson – are contracted to IPL sides.

It also means other Black Caps frontliners would play for their domestic sides in October and early November in their first cricket since March. The domestic schedule won’t be locked in until the international dates are confirmed.

White said the Black Caps and White Ferns would assemble for the first time on July 13 at Lincoln near Christchurch, the first of six scheduled camps there and in Mt Maunganui until early September.

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Sophie Devine and the White Ferns are eyeing the Women’s World Cup at home next February.

The White Ferns will be first in action for the 2020-21 season, with Cricket Australia already having announced trans-Tasman women’s T20 and ODI series in Sydney and North Queensland between September 27 and October 10.

As it stands the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand is scheduled to run from February 6 until March 7, with Christchurch’s Hagley Oval hosting the final. Immigration NZ has already announced the easing of border restrictions for competing teams.

The biggest uncertainty is, what happens with the rescheduled men’s T20 World Cup which is lucrative for all the ICC full member countries via broadcast rights payments. If that is shoehorned into February-March then the women’s tournament could be postponed, a prospect raised by Australian star Ellyse Perry last week as it became clear the men’s T20 tournament would not go ahead in October.

White begged to differ. “From my personal point of view I think the Women’s World Cup is looking positive, and very likely to be played as scheduled [in New Zealand].”

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