Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IRELAND’S tour of Zimbabwe next month is set to be one of the last casualties of the Coronavirus outbreak when an announcement is made on Monday.
Cricket Ireland have told Zimbabwe Cricket that the advice from the Irish government is that only essential travel should take place and they have asked that the tour — the squad were due to leave on March 27 — be rescheduled.
The hosts have promised a response within 48 hours but with the England squad heading home from Sri Lanka before the first Test and the India-South Africa series called off after one match, it is inevitable that Zimbabwe will agree to the postponement.
The Ireland squad for the six-match tour — three T20Is and three ODIs — was due to be selected by video link last night but that was postponed.
Nigel Jones would have taken part in his first meeting after formally being appointed to the selection committee, joining chairman Andrew White, head coach Graham Ford plus Simon Johnston and Ian McGregor, head coaches of the Northern Knights and North West Warriors respectively. The head coaches of the three main provincial sides are automatically invited to join the panel so Jones, the CIYMS captain, replaces Albert van der Merwe, his former Ireland team-mate and predecessor as Leinster Lightning coach, in the role.
The local seasons in the NCU and North West are due to get under way on April 25 but following the instruction from Cricket Ireland on Thursday that all cricket activity — which includes pre-season training, indoor nets and cricket club academies — be cancelled, that is already in doubt along with the first international action of the season, three ODIs against Bangladesh at Stormont, beginning on May 14.
If Bangladesh travel, the teams are also due to play four T20 matches in England, from May 22 to 29, but as the British Government says the peak for the outbreak is still 12 to 14 weeks away, those games must be in doubt.
In a statement, cancelling all cricket activity until (at least) March 29, Cricket Ireland said: “The health and safety of players, staff, coaches, families and volunteers within the cricket community is our key priority and we will take all necessary actions to do our part in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
“We appreciate this disruption may inconvenience many, however, we believe it is in the best interests of the whole cricket family.”
Cricket Ireland has also closed its offices with all staff working from home.