The Irish women's cricket team's World Cup qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka has become the latest sporting event to fall foul of the pandemic.
Ed Joyce's side had been due to partake in the tournament from July 3 to 9 but the International Cricket Council (ICC) have now decided to postpone. It was a far from unexpected course of action and the Irish head coach has reacted with little surprise.
The World Cup itself is due to take place in New Zealand next year.
“Naturally we are disappointed to see this important qualifying tournament postponed, but it is an understandable situation given the circumstances,” said Joyce, who played for both Ireland and England.
“The chance to qualify for a World Cup is always a big moment in a player’s career and I know before lockdown the performance squad were well positioned, some in Ireland and others playing club cricket during the Irish winter in Australia.
“We had a lead-in programme in place for the qualifier before the pandemic hit, but, like everyone else, we’ve had to adapt quickly to lockdown conditions. We have continued fitness programmes and held numerous team learning sessions via video-conferencing over the last two months, but despite the opportunities that these sessions offer, there is no substitute to getting out and playing, so we’re all eager to get out and play when conditions permit.”
Joyce expressed the hope that the ICC would furnish the teams with “ample notification” of the new dates given the side would need a sufficient lead-in period to prepare. The women's team has already had a tour to Thailand, planned for last month, cancelled.
The Irish men's team will likely find out this week whether their two home summer series, against New Zealand and Pakistan, can proceed. The odds are stacked against either one being played and the team's September ODI (one-day international) series away to England may also be shifted to another calendar spot as things stand.