Cricket: Plunket Shield cancelled, Wellington declared champions

The Wellington Firebirds have been declared winners of the Plunket Shield, after New Zealand Cricket's decision to cancel the final two rounds of the competition, due to coronavirus concerns.

Chief executive David White said the difficult decision was made after expert medical advice and the NZ Government's mandated 14-day self-isolation policy.

The Firebirds were a mammoth 26 points ahead of nearest rivals Central Stags in the competition standings. They haven't won the silverware since the 2003/4 season.

"The strong consensus within NZC is that extra measures need to be taken to safeguard both the health and well-being of the New Zealand cricket family and the wider public interest," said White.

"The medical advice we’re receiving is that we need to take a lead on this matter.

"We're informed the risk is very real. The pace of change is great, and we have a duty of care to not only our staff and players, but our communities as well."

White added that the call had been made primarily due to concerns over the heightened risk of transmission in areas such as airports, planes and hotels, rather than mass gatherings.

Advice from both NZC’s chief medical officer and the Ministry of Health emphasised the absence of person-to-person transmission in localised environments, meaning club and amateur cricket competitions could continue.

The NZ Cricket Awards, scheduled for March 30, have also been cancelled.