CWI Targeting September for SA Tour but Sweating on IPL

CWI chief executive Johnny Grave

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Cricket West Indies are eyeing September as a possible window for the hosting of South Africa’s rescheduled tour of the Caribbean but said the staging of the Indian Premier League would be the final determinant of when the series will be played.

South Africa were expected to play two Tests and five Twenty20 Internationals from July 23 to August 16 before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced a global cessation of cricket.

With the Caribbean Premier League expected to be staged from August 18 to September 10, CWI hope South Africa can follow immediately afterwards with the series to be staged in one territory in a bio-secure environment.

However, with the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) in the process of finalising dates for the rescheduled IPL, CWI chief executive Johnny Grave said any tour by South Africa would have to accommodate the lucrative T20 tournament, especially with several of their players involved.

“The plan as we are working on now is that the players would come home [from England], they will have the weekend at home. Those that are in the Caribbean Premier League will head down to Trinidad on probably August 3rd so it’s a quick turnaround,” Grave told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guests cricket show.

“CPL finishes September 10. We hope very much that South Africa will follow immediately after that.

“Whether we can get the full tour in or we’re going to have to look at a split tour between the Tests and the T20s, we don’t know.

“We obviously hear and read that India are trying to get the IPL towards the back end of September either in India, which I know is their preferred choice or the UAE, which is their back up choice but there’s been no announcement on that yet.

“We very much hope that South African will be able to come here in September for either a T20 only tour or a Test only tour at the very least.”

He continued: “It will be dependent on the IPL. South Africa have a number of their Test players who have IPL contracts whereas this current Test team we don’t have any IPL players in.

“We won’t be able to play Test cricket against South Africa during the IPL – Cricket South Africa have made that very clear to us. They’ve got a commitment to their players to allow them to go and play in the IPL.”

Due to COVID-19, CWI have already been forced to postpone several home series. South Africa Women were scheduled to arrive for a One-Day International tour from May 30 to June 10 while South Africa A had been expected to tour from June 10 to July 9 for three four-day “Tests” and five one-dayers.

And with the New Zealand limited overs tour carded for July 8-19 also put on hold, Grave said CWI remained hopeful over the South Africa series and were continuing their dialogue with Cricket South Africa.

“At this stage, we hope that’s the case (South Africa will tour) but I can’t confirm at this stage,” the Englishman said.

“With no flight flights between South Africa and the UK which is the obvious route for them to travel, at this moment it’s not something South Africa have been able to confirm to us. But we’re talking to them regularly and we hope for good news soon.”

If the tour goes ahead, Grave said the template being utilised by the CPL where games will be played in a single jurisdiction, would be mirrored so as to limit movement of players and personnel in the ongoing COVID-19 environment.

All CPL matches for the upcoming tournament will be played in Trinidad and while Grave said CWI were still in discussions over the venue for the South Africa series, he backed the Caribbean’s ability to successfully execute the various bio-secure protocols required.

“I think very much like the Caribbean Premier League we would be looking to host South Africa in one country,” Grace explained.

“I think moving does create challenges in terms of bio-security but also in terms of ensuring that all of the measures that we would want put in place can be adhered to, and then obviously changing countries involves different procedures and measures in terms of Ministries of Health and National Security.

“So it’s a huge operational challenge if we have to have long tours that need multiple venues and therefore cannot be hosted in one country.”

He continued: “Certainly, in terms of our medical panel, in terms of our sports science and medicine manager, I’ve got all the confidence that we’ve got the medical practitioners and the cricketing operations staff that are used to operating cricket and therefore I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to adhere to any government protocols and do everything we can to ensure player safety which is always going to be our number one concern.”

CMC

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