Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the West Indies progressed to next year’s Women’s World Cup in New Zealand as the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday called off midway the qualifiers, currently being played in Harare, due to the introduction of travel restrictions from several African countries, including the host country Zimbabwe, following the breakout of a new Covid-19 variant in southern Africa.
The decision to call off ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021 was taken during the preliminary league phase of the nine-team tournament, which was to decide the final three teams 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 were thus decided according to the team rankings as detailed in the tournament playing conditions. Therefore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the West Indies will progress to the event in New Zealand, the ICC said in a release on Saturday.
Play in two of the three matches on 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,” Tetley was quoted as saying in the release.
The teams that have qualified for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 to be held in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3 are Australia, England, India, South Africa, New Zealand (hosts), Pakistan, West Indies, and Bangladesh.
The number of teams in the third cycle of the ICC Women’s Championship (from 2022-2025) has been increased from eight to ten, and these teams will be Australia, England, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Ireland.