The West Indies cricket team landed in Manchester today (9 June), with the entire contingent having departed from the Caribbean island of Antigua the previous evening, to prepare for next month’s whistlestop three Test tour of England.
With the Windies keen to retain the Wisden Trophy, which they so expertly claimed 2-1 on home soil last year, preparations have been carefully monitored as international cricket is set to resume for the first time since March.
A pair of planes were used to collect players from across the Caribbean yesterday and, as all the coronavirus tests returned with positive results from Miami in the United States, the private charter to England did not have to turn any of the contingent away. Cricket West Indies (CWI) issued a statement a few hours prior to their departure from Antigua which reiterated that the tourists will be quarantined and once more tested again for coronavirus. The original tour was scheduled for May and June, but was postponed due to global coronavirus restrictions.
Windies skipper captain Jason Holder was quoted in the statement as saying: “This is a huge step forward in cricket, and in sports in general, as we travel over to England for this series. A lot has gone into the preparations for what will be a new phase in the game.”
Holder will compete for the prized Wisden Trophy without a trio of influential players who rejected the chance to tour England, where the coronavirus has resulted in the highest number of deaths in Europe. The Barbados icon will miss the pair of left-handed batmen Darren Bravo (Trinidad & Tobago) and Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana) as well as fast-medium pacer Keemi Paul (Guyana) on the seven-week tour. However, debuts are on the cards for Jamaican all-rounder Nkrumah Bonner and Barbados fast bowler Chemar Holder, both given their inaugural Test call-up.
Bonner, the 31-year-old who has been playing for the Leewards Islands since 2015, has been rewarded for being one of the leading batsmen in the 2020 West Indies Championship after amassing 523 runs in seven matches at an average of 58.11. He represented the Windies in two T20 Internationals back in 2011 and 2012, but had until now been overlooked at Test level.
The Windies will live, train and play in a bio-secure environment with their initial base as Lancashire’s Old Trafford headquarters in Manchester for quarantining and training. Protocols will restrict movement in and out of the venue.
The Test series, which takes provisionally takes place over 21 days, will be played without spectators. Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl in Southampton is the venue for first Test (8-12 July), before the CWI contingent return to Manchester for the second and third Tests (16-20 July and 24-28 July respectively) if international cricket resumes as it still needs to be approved by the British government.
A group of 11 reserve players have travelled with the 14-strong Test squad to train and help prepare the trio of matches, and offers the Windies immediate replacements in case of injury or even positive coronavirus tests.
Windies squad for England tour
Test squad – Jason Holder, Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shemarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Chemar Holder, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Reserves – Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.
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