The ICC today announced that the Women’s World Cup Qualifier event, scheduled to be staged in Lahore, Pakistan from 18-24 February 2008, will now take place in South Africa instead.
Speaking to gsport on her return from London, National Chairman of Selectors Geraldine Smith was overjoyed to hear the news: "Wonderful, wonderful news!’, said Smith. "Our girls will be playing in home conditions, and everyone can come to support them, this is great news!"
Kerri Laing, Africa representative on the ICC Women’s Committee confirmed that Cri-Zelda Brits would lead the South African team in the qualifiers. "Cri-Zelda was previously named as the captain of the squad for the qualifiers, and she remains in charge. There might be a chance or two in the squad, but Brits will remain as captain for the series."
CSA CEO, Gerald Majola said on Tuesday: "While CSA deeply regrets the reasons behind the switch of venues, we are very proud to have been chosen as the alternative hosts. This will give us another opportunity to work with the ICC and the ICC Women’s Committee on another major cricketing event, following our hosting of the very successful ICC Women’s World Cup in 2005.
"CSA is also committed to the development of women’s cricket and this qualifying tournament will provide an excellent platform to further this programme. The organisers and participants can be assured of traditionally warm South African hospitality and excellent playing conditions".
The decision was arrived at following independent security reports and extensive discussions by ICC management and the ICC Women’s Committee, and the event will be staged in conjunction with Cricket South Africa and the Boland Cricket Union in the Stellenbosch district of the Western Cape over the same dates.
The tournament had originally been arranged to take place in Lahore last November but was postponed for security reasons until after the proposed election date of 8 January. But with the rescheduling of that vote for 18 February, the decision was made to move the event to South Africa.
The event involves eight teams – Bermuda, Ireland, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – with the top two sides going forward to the ICC Women’s World Cup in Australia in 2009.
"It is unfortunate that the timing of the event ended up clashing with the elections and forcing us to change the venue," said ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed.
"I would like to thank all those from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who so enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to host this event. We remain committed to international cricket being played in Pakistan but, sadly, events beyond the control of the ICC and the PCB have conspired against us on this occasion," said Mr Speed.
"Thanks are also due to Cricket South Africa and particularly those from Boland who have been able to take over the running of this tournament at short notice," he added.
"The safety of all participants is our number-one priority and on the basis of the independent advice we have received – as well as the material concerns expressed by many of the participating countries – we concluded it was not appropriate to stage the tournament at this time."
The ICC Women’s Committee is made up of Betty Timmer (chairwoman), Catherine Campbell (EAP), Belinda Clark (co-opted), Shubhangi Kulkarni (Asia), Kerri Laing (Africa), Siobhán McBennett (Europe) and Carol Whilby-Maxwell (Americas).