The West Indies three Test tour in England could be the first cricket matches played in the country this year, after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirming that there will be no domestic cricket played before 1 August.
The Windies are waiting for further news about the proposed behind closed doors Test series in July, with the English County Championship and Twenty20 Blast delayed until at least August due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All three Test matches are likely to be staged at either Hampshire’s ground in Southampton or at Lancashire’s Old Trafford in Manchester, with on-site hotels to allow both squads to remain isolated from the general population. But West Indies players have been given the option of missing the trip if they are uncomfortable about travelling to a coronavirus hotspot as England’s death toll from the pandemic is the highest in Europe. However, Windies skipper Jason Holder has reiterated that he is willing to travel as long as the guarantees over safety are upheld.
Holder saw many of his squad training in small groups across the Caribbean this week, including Antigua and Jamaica, and he was joined by Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Kemar Roach at training at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
The delay in action means that Trinidadian fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, who hasn’t played for the Windies since September following knee surgery, should be fit and ready to return for the Test tour to England if it goes ahead.
England’s domestic season has now been delayed three times, with the ECB making a statement on 28 May that their planned start date of July 1 has been provisionally pushed back a further month.
The ECB statement rexplained: “The specifics of the season remain subject to ongoing advice from UK government and health experts, but the ambition remains to host domestic men’s and women’s cricket across England & Wales later this summer.
“The Professional Game Group (PGG) will look to outline a number of opportunities for domestic play, which will be presented to the ECB Board in June.
“These plans include a number of options for both red-ball and white-ball cricket including matches played at all first-class grounds, the use of a regional group model, as well as consideration for matches, played behind closed doors or with a limited number of supporters while strictly adhering to government guidance on social distancing.”
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