Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) can confirm that English county cricket clubs Derbyshire and Durham have decided to cut short their pre-season tour of Zimbabwe as the COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc throughout the world.
Zimbabwe is yet to record a single case of the novel virus, but the visiting clubs are worried about the situation back home, with the United Kingdom being among the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
As the coronavirus crisis escalated in the UK, the British government decided to suspend indefinitely all sporting activities and restrict movements, while the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had to ask the England cricket team to return home from their tour of Sri Lanka last week.
With uncertainty around potential travel disruption and in line with the advice they received from their government and governing body, Derbyshire and Durham decided to prematurely conclude their Zimbabwe tour as a precautionary measure.
The health and safety of their players and staff, the county clubs said, remained of paramount importance and therefore they decided to fly the touring groups back home at the earliest available opportunity.
Derbyshire and Durham had arrived in Zimbabwe last week and were scheduled to play across three formats against local opposition in Bulawayo and Harare respectively.
Only one game, a T20 match between Derbyshire and the Zimbabwe Select side, was played at Queens Sports Club on Saturday before the county sides confirmed they were cutting short their stay in the country.
“It is regrettable that the county teams have been forced to cut short their Zimbabwe tour as a precautionary move, but it is totally understandable as the clubs are concerned, like all of us would be, about the worsening COVID-19 situation back in their country and elsewhere in the world,” ZC Acting Managing Director Givemore Makoni said.
“Nevertheless, we would like to thank both counties for committing to the tour which we have no doubt would have been memorable and a massive boost for our game had it not been discontinued.
“We hope to host them again in the near future.”