Chappell-Hadlee 2020: Blackcaps coach Gary Stead backs postponing Aussie series amid coronavirus fears

Blackcaps coach Gary Stead says his team supports the decision to postpone the Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia, to ensure his side made it home before New Zealand's strict border restrictions take place. 

On Saturday, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) pulled out of the remaining one-dayers against Australia, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced new border restrictions to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The rule that anyone entering New Zealand will have to self-isolate for 14 days means the Blackcaps had to return home before the restriction took effect at midnight Sunday, and could not contest matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday or Hobart on Friday.

The restrictions are in place until at least the end of the month. 

The three-match Twenty20 series, scheduled for New Zealand at the end of the month, was also called off, as the mandatory self-isolation period would also apply to the Australian squad as soon as it crossed the border into New Zealand.

Once the news broke, the Blackcaps rushed to Sydney airport and most of the squad arrived in Auckland on Sunday morning. 

"It has been a difficult time," Stead told Newshub. "There have been different contingency plans put in place. 

"The way the virus has spread and the way things have happened, it is pretty unprecedented times. 

"The health and wellbeing of players come first, but it puts everything in perspective and cricket is just a game. 

"We fully sport the Government's position and back the people that make those decisions. 

Lockie Ferguson didn't travel home with the team, but will arrive on Sunday. After the Blackcaps' 71-run defeat to Australia, Ferguson complained of a sore throat and was placed in immediate isolation for 24 hours. 

Lockie Ferguson.
Lockie Ferguson. Photo credit: AAP

He was tested for COVID-19 but returned negative. 

"We only found out a few hours ago, so it was a quick scramble to get home. It is hard to describe, but for us, getting home and everyone being well was the most important thing.

"Lockie's test came back negative, but it shows how close to home this can be. 

"Cricket came second to all the other stuff going on around the world and the right decision has been made to get people home."  

NZC hopes both series could be replayed later this year. 

"NZC understands and supports the Government's position," it says. 

"This is a time of unprecedented risk and peril, and the personal health and well-being of our players is paramount."