Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket
With the seventh-round Plunket Shield fixture between Northern Districts and the Central Stags in Whangarei called off ahead of the final day’s play due to a COVID-19 outbreak, points from this fixture have been formally discarded, and the points table adjusted to show six rounds completed per affected team, as at close of play on 1 April 2022.
To manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns on NZC Domestic competitions in 2021/22, all NZC Domestic competition points tables this season have ranked teams by average points per match.
In a circumstance where a match is called off due to COVID-19, neither team receives points, and the fixture is not included when calculating the points per match ratio.
The cancellation of the match has therefore seen Northern Districts return to second spot on the table, overtaking Canterbury on average points per game – despite Canterbury having picked up eight first innings bonus points from their drawn match with the Otago Volts, after a weather-hit final day in Rangiora.
Together with runaway leaders the Auckland Aces (who can be equalled, but can not be overtaken, on average points per game) Northern Districts is now the only other team alive in the Plunket Shield.
However, the undefeated Aces are in the strongest position, with a round in hand and requiring just one further point from their last two fixtures (with a maximum of 20 points available per round) to secure the title outright.
The next round of the Plunket Shield first-class championship sees the Central Stags host the undefeated Aces in Napier this week from Tuesday 5 April, while Northern Districts’ fixture against the Wellington Firebirds, also in Whangarei – which had also been due to start on 5 April, has been rescheduled to begin a day later, on Wednesday, 6 April.
The Plunket Shield and, with it, New Zealand’s 2021/22 Domestic season ends in a fortnight’s time when last summer’s champion Canterbury hosts the Aces in the final fixture at Lincoln’s Bert Sutcliffe Oval, from Tuesday 12 to Friday 15 April.
Auckland and Northern Districts’ early summer cricket was delayed this season by lockdowns affecting the upper part of the North Island, with the Domestic calendar consequently rescheduled and conditions agreed to help manage the ability of teams to compete with each other across a pandemic-impacted summer.