Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE all-rounder, Sikandar Raza, will be placed in quarantine for the next two weeks, before joining his teammates in Trinidad and Tobago for the Caribbean Premier League.
The 34-year-old left the country on Tuesday, brimming with excitement, ahead of his debut in the CPL.
The tournament, which is expected to run from August 18 to September 10, got the greenlight from authorities, despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Raza was picked up by the Trinbago Knight Riders in the competition’s draft earlier this month.
He is the only Zimbabwean in the competition.
“Super excited to be on my way for CPL,” tweeted Raza.
“First part of the journey takes me to Dubai. Can’t wait to finally join the TK Riders family. Please keep me in your prayers.’’
Raza is part of six foreign nationals at Trinbago Knight Riders.
He joins Pakistan-born Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, the New Zealand pair of wicketkeeper Tim Seifert and Colin Munro, US fast bowler Ali Khan and India cricketer Pravin Tambe, who is still active at 48.
The 2017 and 2018 champions, have retained 11 players, who include the Bravo Brothers, Dwayne and Darren, West Indies T20 captain Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Amir Jangoo, Tion Webster, Akeal Hosein, Munro and fast bowler Khan.
The side failed to defend their title last year with the Barbados Tridents claiming top spot.
“CPL was missing from the CV and I’m glad it’s now there. But, most importantly, I’m glad that there will be Zimbabwean representation,’’ said Raza.
“What I believe in is that if one goes, then he’ll bring another one and then if the two impress, the number will double.
“I’m hopeful that more Zimbabweans can be snapped up next season.”
The CPL will be the first T20 league to take place after the coronavirus-forced break.
It will feature six teams — Barbados Trident, Trinbago Knight Riders, St Kitts/Nevis Patriots, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs and Andy Flower’s St Lucia Zouks.
The entire tournament will be played in Trinidad and Tobago behind closed doors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the organisers, strict safety procedures have been put in place to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.
All teams and officials will be housed in one hotel and everyone will be subject to strict quarantine protocols.
“Everyone travelling from overseas will be tested for COVID-19, before departure and then again on arrival in Trinidad,” said the CPL in a statement.
Teams and officials will be put into “households” where social distancing will need to be in place.
There will be smaller clusters within each household where these measures can be relaxed.
“However, if any member of this cluster display signs of COVID-19 at any time during the tournament all members of that cluster will be expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time that a member of that cohort first shows symptoms.
“All members of the CPL party will be subject to regular temperature checks and will be re-tested for the virus throughout their stay in Trinidad and again before departure,” read the statement.
CPL chief executive Damien O’Donohoe said the tournament would be staged in two venues in Trinidad and Tobago, with the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba hosting 23 games, including the semi-finals and final, and Queen’s Park Oval at Port of Spain hosting 10 games.
This is not the first time Raza has been selected to play T20 cricket outside Zimbabwe.
In June 2018, he was selected to play for the Montreal Tigers in the players’ draft for the inaugural edition of the Global T20 Canada tournament.
In October that year, he was named in the Tshwane Spartans’ squad for the first edition of the Mzansi Super League T20 tournament.
Later in the same month, he was named in the squad for the Chittagong Vikings team, following the draft for the 2018–19 Bangladesh Premier League.
In July 2019, Raza was selected for the Amsterdam Knights in the inaugural edition of the Euro T20 Slam cricket tournament, but the competition was cancelled a month later.