Fire at Harare Sports Club ICC clears the ground for further use at World Cup Qualifiers

On Tuesday night, a fire broke out at Harare Sports Club, which is currently hosting several ODI World Cup Qualifier matches, but swift response from the authorities ensured there was no damage done to the ground despite the close proximity of the blaze. An inspection by the ICC’s security team and Zimbabwe Cricket as well has cleared the venue for continued use in the tournament.

Around six hours after Zimbabwe completed a six-wicket win over Netherlands, there were flames seen at the southern end of the ground. ESPNcricinfo understands that the material which caught fire consisted mainly of the thatched roofing at Castle Corner, the area usually occupied by the Zimbabwe Cricket Supporters Union. It is not known what caused the initial spark but on an open field with highly combustible material, the blaze grew quickly. One video showed flames reaching about as high as the trees outside the ground and coming very close to the stands.

The Harare Sports Club’s location – opposite an official government building called Zimbabwe House – ensured that authorities were alerted quickly. They put out the fire before it could do damage to the stands.

On Wednesday morning, inspections were done at the ground to ensure that it was safe for spectators and then it was given the green light. The venue has seen packed crowds since the end of Covid-19 restrictions, with interest in the national men’s team at an all-time high. Zimbabwe’s tournament opener against Nepal last Sunday was sold out, with some being turned away at the gate. Their match against Netherlands on Tuesday was well-attended despite it being a weekday. It is expected that Saturday’s clash against West Indies – the most anticipated of the group – will be a packed house.

In total, three more group matches, four Super Six games and the final, on July 9, are still to be played at Harare Sports Club. The two teams that contest the final will also qualify for this year’s ODI World Cup.

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