ST JOHN’S, Antigua — Cricket West Indies (CWI) has approved the Test tour of England, paving the way for cricket’s first-ever biosecure Test series to proceed behind closed doors in July.
In a statement on Friday, CWI said the decision was made following discussions between its medical advisors and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and after pouring over detailed protocols already being engaged “to minimise risk and optimise the health and safety of all concerned”.
Under the current plan, West Indies will leave during the first week of June for the three-Test series scheduled to bowl off July 8 at biosecure venues like Old Trafford in Manchester and the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
The series was originally scheduled for May but had to be postponed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has resulted in 271,000 infections and 38,000 deaths in the United Kingdom.
“The decision comes only after CWI medical and cricket-related representatives and advisors have been involved in detailed discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and their own medical and public health advisers,” the regional governing body said.
“These discussions involve the local and international logistics and protocols which are already being put in place to minimise risk and optimise the health and safety of all concerned.
“CWI has also received and reviewed detailed plans for players and staff to be kept in a biosecure environment for the duration of the tour, with all matches being played behind closed doors.”
The board said permission would now be sought from various Caribbean governments for players and officials to be transported by charter, and to also be tested for COVID-19.
Nearly all Caribbean nations have closed their borders to air passenger traffic due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Players and officials will be flown from their various territories to Antigua, from where they will then travel to the United Kingdom.
“CWI’s management is now in the process of seeking to put all of the approvals and logistics in place within the Caribbean, including seeking permission from the various national governments to facilitate the movement of players and support staff, using private charter planes, and conducting medical screenings and individual COVID-19 testing for all members of the touring party,” the statement said.
“CWI will continue to fine-tune the various arrangements with the ECB whilst they await final UK Government approval of their plans for a biosecure tour, with all three Test matches being played behind closed doors.”
A 30-man provisional squad was identified by CWI selectors recently, who began training this week in several territories.
Once the squad is whittled down to 25 they will fly by charter to the UK where they will undergo two weeks of quarantine before being moved to a biosecure playing venue.
Both teams will be prohibited from contact with the public during the series and will undergo strict social distancing protocols.