A CURFEW from dusk-to-dawn imposed by the government of Zimbabwe this week in response to a recent spike in coronavirus infections could result in the country not playing any more international cricket this year.
Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani said the local cricket governing body had made a request to government authorities to host new Test nation Afghanistan beginning end of this month, with the Asian side reportedly keen to tour here in a bid to get some much-needed game time.
“We really hoped Afghanistan could come through (for five Twenty20 internationals), but the situation is difficult now because the (Covid-19) cases keep increasing,” Mukuhlani told IndependentSport yesterday.
“We had made an application (to the government) to host Afghanistan. There were two things: one, we had applied for Afghanistan to come and, two, also for club cricket to kick off. The challenge now is that if the athletes stay out of action for too long, the danger is that some will never recover.
“We have seen some players failing fitness tests, and that’s the danger of staying out of action for too long. The good thing is that the (T20) World Cup in Australia has been postponed, so everyone has to reschedule. There will be more light after the meeting of the CEOs (of the International Cricket Council’s full members) in terms of how to reschedule the FTPs (Future Tours Programme).”
Zimbabwe’s two Test-match series at home to Sri Lanka in January has been their only international commitment so far this year. The African side was due to return to action in August with a limited-overs tour of Australia, but a Covid-19 resurgence resulted in that trip being postponed.
Apart from the Afghans, Ireland and India also had planned tours to Zimbabwe in the next two months and Mukuhlani additionally revealed that a bilateral series with neighbours South Africa was also being arranged behind the scenes between the two boards.
But with the latest development in Zimbabwe, as well as rising Covid-19 cases in both India and South Africa, plans for these matches might be shelved.
This has left Afghanistan’s visit the more likely to take place, but even that now looks impractical.
“With the new measures, we are not sure now,” admitted Mukuhlani. “They (Afghanistan) were willing to come. We remain hopeful, but that is increasingly looking difficult. Before the new measures it was looking possible. But let’s see. We may just have to postpone.”