CWI Keeping Close Eye on England Tour Amidst Coronavirus

West Indies cricket captain Jason Holder (L) signals to the third umpire for a review for the wicket of Sri Lankan cricketer Kaushal Silva (R) during the first day of their second Test cricket match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at the P. Sara Oval Cricket Stadium in Colombo on October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Cricket West Indies (CWI) says it will continue to liaise with its counterparts, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), over the upcoming Test tour as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the United Kingdom’s sporting calendar.

West Indies are scheduled to tour England for Tests at the Oval and Lord’s in London and Edgbaston in Birmingham, all three fixtures scheduled during the month of June when the UK Government expects the coronavirus outbreak to be at its peak.

The virus, known as COVID-19, has resulted in 1,140 UK infections and 21 deaths, and has already forced the suspension of major fixtures like the English Premier League and the London Marathon.

Further, the ECB last week recalled its side from the tour of Sri Lanka where they were scheduled to play two Tests later this month.

And though the ECB has made no formal statement on the Windies tour, CWI Chief Executive Johnny Grave said the regional governing body would continue to monitor developments regarding the virus.

“It is [still on] at the moment but it’s a dynamic situation that is changing quite literally by the hour so at the moment there’s been no announcement by the ECB about postponing any of their upcoming events,” Grave told CMC Sports.

“Albeit, the ICC [International Cricket Council] have cancelled the World Cup qualifiers which were due to take place in Malaysia and a number of the county clubs have cancelled their preseason tours.”

He added: “At the moment it seems like they [ECB] are taking a sort of four-week period where some events have been postponed or cancelled until mid-April.

“Our players are due to travel at the end of April so at the moment…it’s being closely monitored but at the moment we’ve had no reason to believe the England tour will be cancelled.”

West Indies are scheduled to undergo a camp in England before playing tour matches against England Lions and Worcestershire at the end of May.

They face England in the opening Test at Lord’s starting June 4, open the second Test at Edgbaston on June 12 before wrapping up the series at Lord’s in the final Test bowling off June 25.

The ECB last week conceded its summer schedule was being threatened by the outbreak but said it would continue to plan for all eventualities.

“It is difficult for us to be sure of what outcomes the game might be expected to deal with,” said ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison.

“Therefore, we will continue to plan for a season that proceeds as normal, but in parallel prepare for a range of different scenarios. These could include the possibility of playing matches behind closed doors, or potentially postponing or cancelling elements of the season.”

Globally, cricket has already suffered disruption, with the lucrative Indian Premier League delaying its start from March 29 until April 15 as a “precautionary measure”, India scrapping their ongoing One-Day International [ODI] tour of South Africa and Australia and New Zealand also calling off their limited-overs series Down Under.

CWI also announced bold measures on Saturday to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the Caribbean, suspending all its domestic fixtures for a minimum of 30 days, including the final two rounds of the first-class championship.

The region, which has confirmed nearly 40 COVID-19 cases, could face further disruption with West Indies Women hosting South Africa in five ODIs from May 30 to June 10, and West Indies A taking on South Africa A in a series from June 10 to July 9.

West Indies men also host New Zealand in a limited-overs series from July 8-19 and South Africa in a Test and T20 International series from July 15 to August 16.

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