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Lizelle Lee to miss South Africa's opening World Cup game

She is serving pre-tournament quarantine because of her delayed arrival after the birth of her first child

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
Lizelle Lee arrived in New Zealand over two weeks after her team-mates landed  •  Getty Images

Lizelle Lee arrived in New Zealand over two weeks after her team-mates landed  •  Getty Images

South Africa opener Lizelle Lee has been ruled out of the team's opening match of the ODI World Cup against Bangladesh on March 5 in Dunedin.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that Lee, the 2021 ICC Women's ODI Cricketer of the Year and South Africa's most explosive batter, is currently serving a mandatory pre-tournament quarantine at the New Zealand government's Managed Quarantine and Isolation (MIQ) facility after a pre-arranged delayed arrival in the country following the birth of her first child. She will link up with the South African squad this weekend and will hence miss the fixture against Bangladesh on Saturday.
Lee is understood to have arrived in New Zealand last weekend, more than two weeks after other members of the South African touring party landed and entered quarantine at MIQ. The delay in Lee's arrival in New Zealand is down to an arrangement facilitated by the ICC, Cricket South Africa (CSA), the South Africa Cricketers' Association (SACA) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) following a months-long liaison among them and Lee, who had requested CSA for a delayed departure so she could spend time with her wife, Tanja Cronje, who gave birth to their son on February 22.
"Look, it's a tough one," Lee told ESPNcricinfo in an interview in January when asked what juggling cricket and the impending birth of her child might look like for her leading into the World Cup. "Our baby is due no later than February 25. I'm trying everything in my power to try get a later flight to New Zealand for the World Cup because I really want to be there at the birth and not only being at the birth, but just being there the few weeks before trying to help Tanja with everything that's going on. I mean it's not going to be easy for her doing anything alone.
"I know, things are bit hard at the moment because of Covid and I know they want everybody to try and fly in on the same time, but it's just different circumstances; it's not like I'm trying to stay home just to stay home. It's literally the birth of our first child. Hopefully, the ICC and New Zealand can accommodate that and I know CSA is backing me as well, they're already trying from their side.
"It's a tough decision deciding where I'm going to either stay, maybe skip the World Cup, or I don't know. My family is extremely important to me and, like I said, it's our first child and I don't want to miss out and I want to give my best for South Africa at the World Cup as well."
Lee, placed sixth on the ICC rankings for ODI batters following her recent dominance at No. 1, had missed South Africa's home series against West Indies, too, in January-February having been grounded by Covid-19.
South Africa, semi-finalists in the 2017 ODI World Cup, play their second match on March 11 against Pakistan, in Mount Maunganui. They lost both their warm-ups: against India by two runs and England by six wickets in a rain-curtailed fixture.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha