Teams at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 will be able to field a side with only nine players if their squad is affected by Covid-19, the International Cricket Council announced on Thursday.

The ICC has made arrangements to support teams and ensure the tournament can continue as normally as possible. Other announcements include an unlimited number of super overs to decide tied matches and strict protocols for teams.

ICC Head of Events Chris Tetley said at a media interaction in Christchurch today: “From a Covid perspective, we need to be a little bit flexible, as far as the way in which we manage the game to take into account these unique circumstances.

“So firstly, we have allowed squads to increase in size. Whilst the official playing 15 is still set at 15 as would always have been the case, we’ve allowed squads to bring additional traveling reserves so that they can replace on a temporary basis, if need be because of Covid, players in and out of the squad during the event.

“There’s opportunity for players to contract Covid-19 but then to be able to come back. It’s important that we do everything we can to try and maximise opportunities for the best players in the world to show their skills at a World Cup.

“If it becomes necessary, we would allow a team to field nine players as an exception for this environment and if they had female substitutes from within their management team, we would enable two substitutes to play, non-batting, non-bowling, but to enable a game to take place.”

The tournament begins on March 4 in Tauranga and will culminate with the final in Christchurch on April 3, with each team playing the other seven once to decide the top four who will advance to the semi-finals.

Tetley said: “We would, were it necessary, reschedule fixtures, if it’s possible. There’s obviously a number of logistical constraints upon us but we’ll be asking teams to show maximum flexibility.

“We’ll be as flexible as possible if the need arises to ultimately fulfill our objective which is to get the games on, get a credible World Cup played and a world champion at the end of it all.

“I guess I couldn’t talk about playing conditions in New Zealand without mentioning a super over and we would have, were it necessary, unlimited super overs if we get to that point in the game. So we wouldn’t get to the boundaries countback.”

Covid-19 safety protocols

Women’s World Cup CEO Andrea Nelson was also on hand to explain the situation regarding fans attending with New Zealand currently under red restrictions in their traffic light system.

Nelson said: “We can operate currently in pods of 100. We’re taking it week-by-week as we work our way through but in the first week, it is likely that there’ll be some availability at some matches.

“Unfortunately, at some venues, we will have to cancel existing ticket holders and obviously, that’s not something we want to do and we’re working really hard to see how many people we can get into the stadium and maximise interest in the World Cup.

“Our players here on the ground will be following some pretty strict protocols to keep them safe, and to keep the tournament going.

“We have put measures in place such as charter flights domestically, exclusive hotel floors, and an environment where if you are interacting with the team, you need to isolate for a period of time before you enter in.

“That hopefully keeps the team environment as safe as possible and then we’ll focus on once inside our stadiums keeping the public safe.”