ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 called off after South Africa variant sends shockwaves

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The International Cricket Council on Saturday announced that the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 has been called off due to the introduction of travel restrictions from a number of African countries. The said Qualifier was scheduled to be held in Harare.

Several countries including the United Kingdom have imposed a travel ban on many southern African nations including Zimbabwe and South Africa following the breakout of a new COVID-19 variant.

According to the ICC, the decision was taken during the preliminary league phase of the nine-team tournament, that was to decide the final three qualifiers for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, to be played in New Zealand, as well as two additional teams for the next cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship.

“The qualifiers will now be decided according to the team rankings as detailed in the tournament playing conditions. Therefore, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the West Indies will now progress to the event in New Zealand,” said the ICC.

Play in two of the three matches scheduled for Saturday – Zimbabwe v Pakistan and USA v 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.

ICC Head of Events Chris Tetley 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.”

Australia, England, India, South Africa, New Zealand (hosts), Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh have already qualified for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, to be held in New Zealand between 4 March and 3 April.

The latest decision by the ICC may also prompt the Indian cricket board to reconsider India’s forthcoming series to South Africa.

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