Australian Test captain Tim Paine on Wednesday said the threat of COVID-19 pandemic is bigger than the game of cricket and needs to be taken seriously, justifying the suspension of almost all the ongoing action to contain the deadly outbreak.
The disease, which has so far claimed almost 8,000 lives and infected close to 2,00,000 people globally, has led to the cancellation or postponement of sports events across the globe.
"As hard as it is for all cricketers at the moment I think it is time that we take a break. I know it's even harder this time of year when you've got finals and trophies are on the line and it's all there to be won but this is bigger than us, bigger than the game of cricket but it's something that needs to be taken very seriously," Paine said in a video posted in twitter.
"I hope that we're all back playing the game we love and going about our lives the way we want to as soon as possible but in the meantime, please take care of yourselves, take care of others and let's ride this out together."
In these testing times, we thank you for your patience and support. Here's a message from your men's skipper on behalf of Australian Cricket. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/10jlHl1wYZ— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) March 18, 2020
In Australia, the three-match ODI series against New Zealand was called off, while the upcoming three-match T20 International series in New Zealand, starting 24 March was also postponed. The remainder of the Sheffield Shield competition has been cancelled too.
The Australian women's cricket team, which won the T20 World Cup recently, also had its limited-overs tour of South Africa cancelled.
"There's no doubt it's been a big week for our cricket community. Some decisions have been made in the best interests of our country and our most vulnerable people. One of those decisions has been to cancel all cricket. I realise that's tough but it's something we should all take very seriously," Paine said.
"I would certainly love to be playing with Tasmania right now in the hunt for a Sheffield Shield final and there's no doubt our Australian men's team would love to be in Hobart trying to win the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and certainly our female world champion team would love to be in South Africa. But we're not, and for very very good reason."
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar also took to twitter to educate the people about the steps they need to take during the ongoing health crisis.
एक नागरिक के तौर पर हमारी कुछ जिम्मेदारियां हैं।हम कुछ आसान से कदमों का पालन कर कोरोना वायरस (COVID-19) को दूर रख सकते हैं। मैं आपसे अनुरोध करता हूँ कि बुनियादी बातों का ख्याल रखें ताकि हम सभी सुरक्षित रहें। #IndiaFightsCorona@MoHFW_INDIA pic.twitter.com/vBYnEbYZ4C— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 18, 2020
"We are all worried due to the coronavirus. There are few things which I can keep in mind like stay away from public places as it can spread from one person to other, stay away from people with symptoms of flu.
"See a doctor if you show symptoms or call the helpline number, wash hands with soap as many times as possible in flowing water and don't go by hearsay. It can happen to anybody and don't ignore it," he said.
"...by understading how it spreads we can defeat it," added the batting great, who joined WHO's #SafeHandsChallenge to promote the importance of washing hands amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In India, the deadly disease has infected 147 people so far and killed three.