NZ border reopening too late for Aussie support

Australia’s World Cup side and their family, friends and fans have been crushed by New Zealand’s mid-April border reopening date, which ended hopes for a flood of support heading across the Tasman for the conclusion of the tournament.

Australia have four wins from as many games and are cruising towards the semi-finals, scheduled for March 30 and 31, and potentially the final, on April 3 in Christchurch.

Families and friends of the team – as well as many Aussie fans – hoped to make it to New Zealand, anxiously awaiting news from its government on the border reopening.

It arrived on Wednesday, when prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would open to Australia on April 13.

Speaking before the announcement, Rachael Haynes, the leading run-scorer at the tournament to date, said hopes were high for an influx of support.

“It’d be awesome. We would love to see it,” she said. “I know that every country is at their own spot in terms of opening up. It needs to be in the best interest of the community first.

“But on a personal note, we would love to have our family and friends over … if the border did open, we’d definitely see some Australian fans come across.”

Aussies unbeaten as bowlers set up big win over Windies

Ardern ruled out an exemption for the tournament, saying “the date that we’ve set is the date we’ve set”.

Tournament chief executive Andrea Nelson said organisers didn’t believe it was their place to lobby the government over the border.

“We’ve not worked on the border policy aside from bringing in the essential people for the tournament,” she said, meaning ICC staff, players and key contractors.

“I do feel for those Australian families that can’t come and see the team.”

The tournament has coincided with New Zealand’s worst outbreak of the pandemic.

Attendance caps have been lifted to 20 per cent, and there are hopes that may rise by tournament’s end, but very few are supporting anyone but the White Ferns, given the border closures.

It has made this World Cup experience a vastly different one for the Australians who were involved in their T20I victory on home soil in 2020, as have the COVID-19 restrictions.

Meg Lanning’s side entered New Zealand straight after winning the Ashes last month, forced to spend a week in hotel quarantine before taking a few days leave and getting stuck into tournament preparations.

From the start of the Ashes in January, the team has spent more than two months in close confines, limiting outside contact as they attempt to avoid COVID-19, and a repeat of the positive diagnosis that forced star allrounder Ashleigh Gardner into isolation, to achieve their World Cup dream.

Allrounder Tahlia McGrath said on Thursday the border news was disappointing but the team had accepted the situation.

“It’s a tough one because we’ve all been keeping an eye on the borders, we had lots of family and friends that were pretty keen to come over,” McGrath said.

“But it is what it is, you can’t control that and we’re quite lucky that we’ve got such a close group here with players and support staff.

“We’ve been on the road for two-and-a-half months now and we really enjoy each other’s company … doing some touristy things along the side, exploring New Zealand and just enjoying the World Cup, because they only come around every now and then so you’ve got to enjoy it for what it is. “

Aussie bowlers destroy New Zealand after Gardner’s blitz

McGrath was adamant the restrictions, a sore heel and the absence of Australian fans were not dampening her first World Cup experience.

The South Australian missed out on a shot at Australia’s last one-day World Cup squad in 2017 following an untimely injury and was unable to break into the national side for their successful T20I campaigns in 2018 and 2020.

“I’ve been wanting to be a part of World Cup for so long now,” the 26-year-old beamed.

“And so far, it’s been everything I’ve expected – it’s obviously a little bit different with COVID and the restrictions, but I’m just loving it.

“The whole excitement around the tournament, the constant travel, playing a different opponent every game, I just love every bit of it.”

McGrath was forced to watch from the sidelines in Mount Maunganui during Australia’s win over Pakistan due to a sore heel, but confirmed on Thursday it had been a precautionary move.

“It’s never happened to me before, I’ve never had any problems with my feet but I woke up the day after the England game and felt like there was a stone under my heel,” McGrath explained.

“(Missing the Pakistan game) was just about making sure I got on top of it early so that it didn’t have a big impact on me coming to the back-end of the tournament.

“I’m feeling good… we’ve got a really good medical team here looking after me and everyone on tour (so) hopefully that’s behind me now.”

Australia will play India in a day-night match at Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday.

ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022

Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda –Jade Wellington. Traveling reserves: Heather Graham, Georgia Redmayne

Australia’s World Cup 2022 fixtures

Mar 5: Beat England by 12 runs

Mar 8: Beat Pakistan by seven wickets

Mar 13: Beat New Zealand by 141 runs

Mar 15: Beat West Indies by seven wickets

Mar 19: v India, Eden Park, Auckland, 12pm AEDT

Mar 22: v South Africa, Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

Mar 25: v Bangladesh, Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL WORLD CUP SCHEDULE

Semi-finals

Mar 30: Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT

Mar 31: Hagley Park Christchurch, 12pm AEDT

Final

Apr 3: Hagley Park Christchurch, 11am AEDT

All matches to be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports

Leave a Comment