PAPUA New Guinea’s campaign at the women’s cricket world cup qualifier has ended before it even started thanks to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
Due to positive Covid tests within the squad, the Kumul Petroleum-sponsored Lewas were forced to withdraw from this month’s qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. The team went into quarantine on Oct 30 in preparation for their planned departure on Saturday.
Cricket PNG general manager Tony Naidu said there was not be enough time for all players to be cleared.
“We have also over the weekend worked with the International Cricket Council on later flight options to give the team more time to still be able to tour.
“Unfortunately, all the extra efforts to get the team to travel have been unsuccessful.
“We do not have enough players for the tour who can pass the Covid-19 test required to fly internationally, leaving the CPNG board no option other than to withdraw the team from the tour.”
The tour involved early entry to Zimbabwe, where the Lewas — after two years of no international competition due to Covid-19 — were going to be able to acclimatise prior to the qualifiers.
The team would have been playing the West Indies, Ireland, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in the group phase of the qualifiers, seeking to qualify for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
“Unfortunately, despite everyone in CPNG being fully vaccinated, Covid-19 has robbed us of the opportunity to play international cricket once again,” Naidu said.
“The board, management, staff and players are all devastated at this turn of events.
“Months of hard work have gone into this tour, and to be robbed by Covid-19 before we could leave is hard to accept.
“Covid-19 is in communities in PNG and despite putting in best practices, including vaccinations and quarantining players seven days early, it wasn’t enough on this occasion.
“Our only comfort is that all the players and support staff who have tested positive, have had only mild or no symptoms due to being vaccinated.
“While this is a cruel blow to the Lewas and to CPNG, we will regroup work towards new challenges for next year.
Naidu said they were encouraging everyone in the country to get the Covid-19 vaccines available so that the virus can be brought under control.