by Kevin Mapasure
ZIMBABWE’S bumper 2021 international calendar is facing early trouble with the national cricket team’s series against Afghanistan in doubt following the latest COVID-19 lockdown which has paralysed domestic leagues.
The players were set for testing yesterday ahead of the domestic T-20 league that was scheduled to kickstart today, in a bio-bubble, but following the pronouncement that the country was going into a lockdown and the subsequent communication by Sports minister Kirsty Coventry that all sporting activities had been suspended, the players were told to stay at home.
The domestic T-20 tournament would have formed part of the preparations for the Afghanistan tour.
Afghanistan and Zimbabwe are looking to play two Tests and three T20 internationals at the end of the year.
The venue is as yet to be decided. The respective boards are considering a number of options since Afghanistan cannot host international matches due to the political situation in that country.
Coventry opened the door for negotiations for sports associations that might want to seek a special dispensation.
It is likely that Zimbabwe Cricket will seek a special dispensation for the players to get back to training in preparation for the series, like they did before their visit to Pakistan last year.
Following a relatively quiet 2020, Zimbabwe is expecting a congested calendar in 2021 where according to the Future Tour Programme (FTP), they will tour Afghanistan (two Tests, three T-20s), host Pakistan (two Tests and three T-20s), host Bangladesh (two Tests, three ODIs and three T-20s), travel to Ireland (one Test, three ODIs and five T-20s) and they will wrap up the year by hosting Afghanistan (one Test, three ODIs and two T-20s).
ZC is pushing to host India this year while they are also expected to play Netherlands sometime during the year. The calendar may see some changes from what the FTP
They were supposed to have hosted India last year, but the tour was cancelled due to the coronavirus-induced lockdowns across the world.
Their tour to Australia was also called off while Ireland’s visit to Zimbabwe also could not take place.
The domestic season kickstarted with the premier competition, the Logan Cup, where two rounds of matches were played before the players and officials took a break for the Christmas holiday.
They were set to return to the bio bubble soon after the New Year holiday to commence the T20 provincial competition with the T-20 tournament, which would have been used by the national selectors to pick the squad that will play Afghanistan.
Logan Cup was scheduled to return on January 15.
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