Three series, all part of the men's World Cup League 2, which forms part of the qualifying pathway to the 2023 edition of the 50-over World Cup, have been postponed because of the Covid-19-related travel restrictions around the world, the ICC announced on Friday.
USA (placed second) and Nepal (No. 7) were scheduled to travel to Oman, the table-toppers, for a series between March 19 and 28, while Papua New Guinea (bottom of the standings) were expected to host Oman and Scotland (at third) between April 14 and 24, and USA and fourth-placed Namibia between May 13 and 23. Each of those series comprised of six ODIs, which now stand postponed indefinitely.
"The postponements are due to the current travel restrictions between countries, the quarantine time required before matches and the recent surge in COVID-19 cases," the ICC said in a statement.
"The ICC's priority continues to be to protect the well-being of players, coaches, officials and fans," ICC head of events Chris Tetley said in the statement. "We have fully assessed the situation with both hosts and all participating Members, and taking into account current travel restrictions, quarantine time before matches and on government and public health authority advice in relation to COVID-19, the best course of action was to postpone these series.
"We are actively working with Members to identify suitable windows to reschedule the three series. We are likely to face more challenges over the coming months but will continue to try and maximise the opportunity for Members to qualify on the field of play."
The plan on the part of the ICC is to reschedule all the affected tours and matches before the cut-off date of February 28, 2023. "The window for rescheduling fixtures has been extended to the latest possible date to provide the best opportunity for qualification to be determined on the field of play."
With the series between March and May affected, the next series is expected to be in July, when Scotland are due to host Nepal and Namibia.
The men's World Cup League 2 involves seven teams, who play a total of 21 triangular ODI series over a three-and-a-half-year period, with the top three teams entering the final round of qualifiers for the World Cup, to be held in Zimbabwe in June-July 2023. India, the hosts of the 2023 tournament, and the other seven top World Cup Super League teams will qualify directly for the World Cup, while the bottom five teams from the Super League will play in the qualifier, joining the three teams from League 2. The World Cup itself has been scheduled for October-November 2023.