West Indies Prepared to be ‘Agile’ in Planning as South Africa Series Looms

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(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Cricket West Indies is anticipating another testing time when they host next month’s bio-secure series against South Africa but said it was critical to remain operationally “agile” in order to respond to the challenges served up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Africa is scheduled to play two Tests and five One-Day Internationals but CWI is yet to announce the itinerary for the tour.

The series follows the recent Test and white-ball tour by Sri Lanka which ended last month and marks only the second international series staged in the Caribbean since the onset of the pandemic.

CWI chief executive, Johnny Grave, said though experience had been gained from staging the Sri Lanka series, the nature of the pandemic meant planning remained fluid.

“There are so many hurdles to overcome so it’s an ongoing process,” Grave said.

“And ultimately, until players arrive – and talking from experience with Sri Lanka – until that first ball of the first game is bowled, right to the last day when players safely leave, it’s a stressful time for everyone just to make sure the cricket can go ahead as planned.

“I think at this stage we’re into the final discussions with governments. Obviously, we need Chief Medical Officers to approve the protocols within each of the countries.

“It’s an ever-changing dynamic situation – what we know now might well be different next week so we’ve got to continue to be agile.”

The tour had been scheduled for last July but was postponed due to the pandemic, as CWI was forced to scrap all of its international and domestic tournaments.

And the series was further imperiled by a governance dispute between Cricket South Africa and Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa, which was eventually settled last week, paving the way for the tour to proceed as planned.

With air travel still complicated because of coronavirus restrictions, South Africa are expected to arrive in the Caribbean via Paris and St Martin, to begin their preparation.

“We’ve certainly had very, very positive talks with Cricket South Africa,” Grave confirmed to Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest.

“[A few weeks ago] there was still some confusion with their governance and the government in South Africa and the Minister of Sport.

“That’s recently been resolved and that’s good news for us and good news for world cricket, and South Africa cricket in particular.”

He added: “I’m confident they’re coming. We continue to work through all the logistical and medical and operational challenges that we have.”

Sri Lanka featured in two Tests, three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals and with the Proteas now poised to follow, Grave said tours by Australia and Pakistan would further ensure a bumper domestic schedule.

“We continue to work morning, noon and night to make these tours happen,” the Englishman stressed.

“Fingers crossed, we’re moving forward with not just South Africa but the visit straight afterwards by Australia and Pakistan after that.

“So [there is] plenty going on and lots of cricket to look forward to we hope.”

CMC

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