Image: @ICC/Twitter/Pixabay/Representative Image
The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday abandoned the Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 in Zimbabwe amid the discovery of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus in South Africa. The ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2021 in Zimbabwe was scheduled to be played till 5 December and would have decided the final three spots for the ICC Women's World Cup in New Zealand next year as well as the remaining two berths in the next cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.
However, amid surging concerns over the B.1.1.529 strain of the coronavirus, renamed Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the introduction of travel restrictions from a number of African countries, including the host country Zimbabwe, the International Cricket Council came to the conclusion to currently abandon the tournament.
JUST IN: The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe has been called off due to Covid risk.— ICC (@ICC) November 27, 2021
As per the official release, Chris Tetley, the ICC Head of Events expressed his disappointment and said,
"We are incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the remainder of this event but with travel restrictions from a number of African countries being imposed at such short notice, there was a serious risk that teams would be unable to return home.
"We have explored a number of options to allow us to complete the event but it isn’t feasible and we will fly the teams out of Zimbabwe as soon as possible. Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now qualify for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 by virtue of their rankings, whilst Sri Lanka and Ireland will also join them in the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship", he added.
The abandonment of ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier means Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now progress to the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, with Sri Lanka and Ireland occupying the other slots for the 2022-25 cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.
Furthermore, as per ICC, play in two of the three matches scheduled for Saturday – Zimbabwe vs Pakistan and USA vs Thailand, started as scheduled but the third fixture of the day, between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, could not be staged as a member of the Sri Lanka team support staff tested positive for COVID-19.