ICC cancels Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier over Omicron fears - Windies Women to advance

By Sports Desk November 27, 2021

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has taken the decision to abandon the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2021, which had been taking place in Zimbabwe due to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus.

Global concerns regarding the emergence of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 has seen travel restrictions imposed for several African countries, including Zimbabwe.  Those conditions would make travel difficult for players involved in the event.

The tournament was expected to provide the final three spots for the ICC Women's World Cup in New Zealand next year as and also decide the remaining two spots for the next cycle of the ICC Women's Championship.

The places will now be decided based on team rankings, in keeping with the tournament's playing conditions.

As a result, 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.

On Saturday, the scheduled games were already underway with Zimbabwe facing Pakistan and USA taking on Thailand.  The West Indies were scheduled to face Sri Lanka but that game was called off after a member of the Sri Lanka support staff tested positive for the virus.  The event was later abandoned.  In their first encounter, the Windies Women cruised to a six-wicket win over Ireland.

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    Jamaica Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (JBSF) High Performance Director Mark Silver has lamented the circumstances that saw the country’s women’s two-woman team edged out of the Olympic qualifying positions.

    Up to last month, the women’s team of Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and brake woman Audra Segree were favoured to be listed among the automatic qualifiers for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games, among the world’s top 12 teams.  By the time January rolled around, however, a conflation of unfortunate circumstances had changed things entirely.  According to Silver, things began to go wrong from the perspective of the team at Latvia's Sigulda World Series where there was a Covid-19 outbreak.

    “We did everything we could.  We missed out because of the weather and believe it or not Covid,” Silver explained.

    How it works is there are races across the world, after Christmas, the first race was in Latvia, and unfortunately, 7 athletes couldn’t race, which meant that athletes that would have finished lower down finished higher and received points that they wouldn’t have if the race was full of athletes,” he added. 

    “In another race, a massive amount of snow meant that athletes who raced later benefited from the snow being clear.  Now, with the snow it's part of the sport, we expect that.”

    In the final standing, the team finished tied with France for the final spot but were edge out via the tiebreak.  The team could still qualify for the Games if France or any of the other 10 teams above them Germany, Canada, United States, China, ROC, Switzerland, Romania, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, or Belgium are unable to take part in the event.

    “With Covid, the girls finished third overall on the NAC, and before Christmas, I would have said I was confident and with the press release, had it been what we had expected and predicted they were probably our safest option,” he added 

    “However, things that changed but that’s sports.  For each bad thing that goes against you sometimes we get good things and fingers crossed we were bang on points, and who knows maybe this time around luck will go with us.  Hopefully not at the expense of anyone else but hopefully the girls will get to live their dreams as well because they worked so hard.”

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    Inescapably, whenever a Jamaica team qualifies for the Olympics, an inexorable link is made to the 1993 smash hit Cool Runnings, which starred the late John Candy and Doug E. Doug that went on to become a cult classic.

    Unlike the movie, however, the hard yards put in to get to the Olympics, for the nation that has never seen a drop of snow, has always been real.

    Stokes was a last-minute alternate when the team crashed the sled during the historic catapult down the ice in the four-man competition, in Calgary 1988, for the squad that would become immortalised in film.  He and others have pushed on ever since.  The team has subsequently appeared at another eight Olympic Games.  The men’s team, however, last appeared at the Winter sports spectacle in 2014 when a two-man team of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watts finished in 24th place and have not taken part as a four-man unit since 1998.  In the upcoming Olympics, the men’s team will make a triumphant return, but the team has also qualified for the two-man event and women’s monobob to appear in a historic three events.

    “It has a special place in my heart to know that we will be in the four-man event once again at the Olympics, having been a part of that team myself (In 1988) it gives me great satisfaction,” Stokes said.

    “It's not something that we take for granted it's hard work every time to qualify and it is a huge step for us to have three teams at the Games this year.”

    With a bit more luck it could have been four, with the women’s two-woman team finishing just outside of the automatic qualification spots based on a tiebreaker.  The team could still appear at the Games having secured the position as the first alternate, should any of the automatic qualifiers withdraw from the event.

     “The two-woman team of Audra Segree and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian were close.  They were in the qualifying spots for most of the way but in the last few weeks, I think some very questionable decisions were made when it comes to qualification.  I can’t say that I was surprised because these things happen, but it was unfortunate.”

    The women’s team made its debut at the 2018 Winter Games with Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell taking part in the event.  Despite the possibility of that team being left out this time around, qualifying three teams is not a feat to be scoffed at.

    “We have an absolutely outstanding program and we don’t take it for granted.  We have a strong administration and an elite coaching staff that are wanted all over the world.”

  • Zimbabwe 2-1 Guinea: Syli Nationale through despite surprise defeat Zimbabwe 2-1 Guinea: Syli Nationale through despite surprise defeat

    Guinea faced an anxious wait but will still qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 despite suffering a shock 2-1 defeat to Zimbabwe at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo.

    Kaba Diawara's side started their final Group B match with one foot seemingly in the knockout stage, but Zimbabwe pulled off an upset to end their 14-match winless run in Yaounde on Tuesday.

    Guinea then had to wait for confirmation that Sengal and Malawi had drawn 0-0 in the other game before being sure of their place in the next stage.

    As a result, Senegal finished top of the group, meaning they will play one of the best third-placed teams, while Malawi finish third behind Guinea by virtue of an earlier defeat to them.

    Captain Knowledge Musona rose unmarked to open the scoring for Zimbabwe - with no chance of qualifying after losing their two other games - after 26 minutes, heading home Never Tigere's cross from six yards out.

    Kudakwashe Mahachi doubled Zimbabwe's lead two minutes before half-time, with goalkeeper Aly Keita badly at fault as he failed to keep out the midfielder's shot from outside the penalty area.

    Guinea looked a totally different side after the break and Naby Keita halved the deficit four minutes into the second half, bursting forward and unleashing a rasping left-foot strike from outside the box that flew into the far corner of the net.

    Zimbabwe came under increasing pressure but held on for their first AFCON win since 2006, while Syli Nationale will need to improve markedly to make an impact in the knockout stages.

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