CORONAVIRUS has claimed another major sporting scalp with the Victorian Country Cricket League scrapping Melbourne Country Week for the second-straight year.
It comes as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 runs rampant across Victoria, forcing the competition's sub-committee into a decision on Wednesday night.
Victorian Country Cricket League president Kelvin White said there were too many risks to stage the century-old tournament.
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Teams losing infected or isolating players and having to replace them, fears of participants taking the virus home, potential negative impacts on families and work and no guarantee the pandemic would improve in the next month were factors in the verdict.
"Duty of care is fundamental to good management and it was thought to be (unsuitable) if we put players, officials and umpires at undue risk," White said.
"Many associations across country Victoria are currently struggling to play scheduled home-and-away fixtures so it seemed sound to not put extra loads on volunteers by asking them to organise, support and field country week teams."
White said the appetite for representative cricket remained strong among country cricketers.
"I really believe there is a strong appetite for it," he said.
"I think if we're lucky enough to get it off in 2023 we'll see a real upsurge in interest.
"I sat here last night and thought about how we can make next year - 100 years since the first was played - the biggest and best."
Melbourne Country Week was scheduled to run from February 14 to 18. It pits Victoria's country associations against each other in a pool and then finals-style tournament, similar to the UEFA Champions League's setup.
The Ballarat Cricket Association named a 24-strong initial squad last year, though a star Lions quartet withdrew last week.
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