CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, – Members of the travel-weary West Indies touring party have all tested negative for COVID-19 following their arrival here last week.
The contingent left the Caribbean for London from where they connected through Dubai and onto Auckland, before taking a short 1-½ hour flight here to South Island.
West Indies are now on a 14-day period of quarantine before beginning their training and preparation for the November 27 to December 15 tour which comprises three Twenty20 Internationals and two Tests.
“It’s been great to get cricket back on again,” said Cricket West Indies chief executive, Johnny Grave.
“We got cricket re-started with our friends in England back in July and the women obviously went also to England in September. We’ve had the CPL here in the region and we’re embarking on another tour.
“This one one will involve more than Test matches – there will be T20s as well – and us as defending world champions we’ll go there with confidence.”
West Indies face a Herculean task on the tour, having not beaten the hosts in a Test series on New Zealand soil in quarter of a century, and also having only won just three of their last 15 Tests against the Black Caps.
The Caribbean side’s last tour of New Zealand three years ago proved a nightmare as they lost both Tests heavily inside four days and also lost the three-match T20 series 2-0.
While acknowledging the difficulty the series presented, Grave said he expected the T20 side to compete strongly and also hoped the Test side could also spring a surprise.
“We know it’s going to be very tough. I was there in 2017 when it was a one-sided affair and New Zealand got the better of us in all games,” he said.
“But I think in the T20s we’ll go there as defending world champions and with the number of players who’ve been playing cricket in the UAE in the IPL, they should be in good form.
“With all the players having participated in the CPL, I think in the T20s we would expect to compete well and will be looking to win the series.”
Graves went on to point out that “the Test series is really important. Every Test match matters as part of the world Test championship and we know New Zealand in their home conditions are an extremely strong side.
“They very rarely lose series, they very rarely lose matches and they’re going to be raring to go having not played Test cricket since their summer was curtailed back in March.”
Following the T20 Internationals in Auckland and Mount Maunganui between November 27-30, West Indies will clash with the Black Caps in the first Test at Seddon Park in Hamilton starting December 3 before taking on the hosts again eight days later at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
Despite the odds being stacked against West Indies, Grave said the recent tour of England offered hope the Jason Holder-led side could come away with at least a share of the honours.
“I think it will be a great series. We’ve obviously got a really good preparation period of about three weeks before the first warm-up game,” he said.
“Away from home if you can come away with a draw in terms of the world Test championship you would have to say that’s a good result.
“We know it’s going to be difficult but the team should be looking to put in a strong performance against a very strong side.”
In the buildup to the series, West Indies are scheduled to play a three-day game against New Zealand A in Queenstown before returning to the coastal city for a four-day contest.