"Multiple PCR tests have been done on nearly a daily basis to try to give players the opportunity to test negative. We have also, over the weekend, worked with the ICC 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 test required for flying internationally leaving the Cricket PNG Board no option other than to withdraw the team from the tour today," a release from Cricket PNG read.
Having not played any international cricket since September 2019, the Kaia Arua-led team were meant to reach Zimbabwe early in order to acclimatise to the conditions ahead of the qualifying event beginning on November 21. They were grouped alongside West Indies, Netherlands, Ireland and Sri Lanka in Group A and were scheduled to kick off their campaign against West Indies.
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"Unfortunately, despite everyone in Cricket PNG being fully vaccinated, Covid has robbed us of the opportunity to play international cricket once again. 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 before we could leave is hard to accept," the release stated.
Over the last few weeks, the number of Covid cases in PNG have been on the rise, leading Cricket PNG to arrange a seven-day quarantine period for the players and staff ahead of their tour to Zimbabwe. However, "despite putting in best practices", they have had to pull the plug on what would have been an extremely exciting tour for the team with both World Cup qualification and a spot in the next cycle of the ICC Women's ODI championship on the line.
In preparation for the event, Cricket PNG had recently appointed former Perth Scorchers player Kath Hempenstall as the head coach of the squad. Hempenstall, was meant to join the squad directly in Zimbabwe.