West Indies board approves UK tour in principle

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has approved the scheduled tour of England in principle following a meeting via teleconference on Thursday. The Test series, part of the World Test Championship, was scheduled to start from June 4 but was pushed back because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The boards are now looking at an early July start, with the West Indies team arriving in June and isolating prior to the series which will be played behind closed doors.

The board’s formal approval comes days after CWI chief executive Johnny Graves told ESPNcricinfo that he was “increasingly confident” that the tour would take place. A CWI release said the decision was made after detailed discussions between its medical representatives and those of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), including plans around logistics and creating a bio-secure environment during the tour.

It now awaits approvals from the various national governments in the Caribbean region for player and staff movement – which will be through chartered planes – and that of the UK government itself. Players and staff will be screened regularly through the tour.

The decision follows weeks of discussions between the two boards, including a phase where CWI wasn’t as confident as they have been this past week, given the marked difference in Covid-19 cases between the two regions. But the ECB’s safety plans have made CWI confident.

“What has changed is the ECB have got more confident that they’ve got a robust and safe plan to deal with cricket in a biosecure environment behind closed doors,” Grave had said during the interview. “Our medical team are getting more confident and comfortable with those plans. Our players and support staff who we have met with [on conference calls] are beginning to understand what a seven-week tour behind closed doors might look like.”

Subject to a negative Covid-19 test result, the squad is expected to be chartered to Antigua from various parts of the Caribbean, following which they will fly together to the UK. Upon getting there, the team will spend three weeks in their quarantine and training facility.

“If someone tests positive at any stage in the tour they would be removed from the main squad and will be placed into isolation within the biosecure environment and will be treated by the team doctor along with the other on-site medical support staff. Should any player have more serious symptoms, they will be treated in hospital at pre-arranged facilities,” Grave said.

It is also expected that player replacement during a match, along the lines of a concussion substitute, will be mulled by the ICC Cricket Committee when it meets in June.

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