A three-nation cricket series in Namibia has been suddenly cancelled due to the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron. (More Cricket News)
The ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 tournament in Namibia was called off after Oman and UAE left citing travel bans in southern Africa due to Omicron, that threatens to start a new wave of the COVID pandemic.
Sports in South Africa have been thrown off gear due to Omicron. The ICC Women's World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe have been cancelled, Netherlands quit a ODI series against South Africa and the Junior Hockey World Cup for women has been put on hold.
There are serious doubts over India's cricket tour of South Africa scheduled in December-January. The long bilateral series is part of the ICC calendar and crucial for Cricket South Africa's earnings from broadcast rights.
The BCCI has said the tour is on and it is awaiting travel guidelines from the government of India. The South Africans have promised a bio-secure environment for the Indian contingent expected to reach at least a week ahead of the first Test in Johannesburg on December 17.
An Indian A team is currently playing a four-day series in South Africa and BCCI has no plans to call the players back.
The ICC Cricket World Cup League is a qualifier for the 2023 ICC World Cup (50 overs) scheduled to be played in India. Namibia and Oman recently played the T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE. Namibia even qualified for the Super-12 stage and featured in the same group that had India, Pakistan and New Zealand.
The series in Namibia was cancelled over the weekend after UAE banned all flights from southern Africa and the Emirates, Omani players had to rush home.
"After news of the new variant came out, the UAE imposed a travel ban and didn't allow any more flights to and from the region from November 29. So Oman and the UAE couldn't continue with the tour and returned home on Sunday,” the CEO of the Cricket Namibia Johan Muller has been quoted as saying.
Only two of the scheduled eight matches had been played and Muller said the remaining matches will be rescheduled.
"The matches will be rescheduled and played whenever possible. There is still time to play the remainder of the matches before the deadline in March 2023, but now we will just have to wait and see because we don't know when the travel ban will be lifted,” Muller said.