BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Cricket West Indies said Saturday it was working assiduously to ensure the safe return of the women’s squad from Zimbabwe, after the International Cricket Council abruptly cancelled the 50-over World Cup Qualifiers in response to a new strain of COVID-19 in southern Africa.
Zimbabwe, along with South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi, were in the last 24 hours all slapped with travel restrictions by the United States, United Kingdom and some European Union nations, with the aim of limiting the spread of the virus.
The new variant – dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organisation – was discovered in South Africa and initial evidence suggests it is more highly transmissible than previous variants.
West Indies were expected to fly to Dubai on Sunday but CWI director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, said the overall logistics of the route home were still being worked on.
“The dialogue has been ongoing. It’s not a nice situation but we back our management team down there and we’re in constant contact with them,” said Adams.
“We’re also, through them, getting as much information as quickly as we can about potential routings back home – how best, how quickly, what would the logistics be.
“I don’t want to predict but I think we’re going to probably have another couple of days where it is pretty much going to be 24 hours around the clock in terms of communication but we’re in constant contact with them.”
West Indies played just one game of the nine-nation tournament, beating Ireland Women by six wickets in Group A last Tuesday.
They were scheduled to take on Sri Lanka on Saturday but the match was abandoned without a ball bowled after a member of the Asian side’s support staff tested positive for COVID-19.
And Adams said the cancelled fixture had also engaged the attention of CWI, while dialogue with organisers continued over the tournament’s future.
“The Sri Lanka team had to do PCR tests yesterday (Friday), pass those PCR tests and then do another rapid test this morning before any thought of playing in a competitive fixture against us,” the former West Indies Test captain explained.
“So there were ongoing discussions last night that were actually just superseding Sri Lanka and ourselves, because there were bigger questions being asked by the organisers about the entire tournament.”
In Saturday’s other fixtures, Thailand Women beat the United States by nine wickets and Pakistan Women trounced Zimbabwe Women by 114 runs.
With the tournament’s cancellation, West Indies, Bangladesh and Pakistan will now advance to next year’s World Cup in New Zealand, based on their current status in the ICC one-day rankings.
Adams said while West Indies players remained safe in Zimbabwe, they were obviously “concerned” but stressed CWI was keeping them informed of the plans for their safe return to the Caribbean.
“All the players [from every nation] down there … are concerned,” Adams pointed out.
“Without a doubt they’re concerned but we’re doing the best we can to ensure that all the information we have, all the plans we can make we’re sharing with them so we’re getting the information from them and to them as quickly as possible. And as soon as we can get them out of Zimbabwe, we will do that.
“In terms of the routing home, that is still to be decided but we’re doing everything we can and the key is making sure that the information is consistent.”