Former Barbados and West Indies cricketer Carlisle Best says the West Indies tour to England should go ahead. The regional team was scheduled to play a three-match Test series against England from June 4 to 29 but which was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Talks are currently being held between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket West Indies (CWI) in an attempt to have the series played later in the summer. A focal point of the discussions between the ECB and CWI is the safety measures that are to be put in place to protect the players and officials from the deadly virus if the series takes place.
“Cricket will have to restart at some time but it will not be played as we knew it before. Safety is an important aspect of how and when the game will be played during and after COVID-19, therefore the authorities will have to ensure that all safety measures are in place to protect the players, officials, broadcasting crews and the auxiliary staff that are needed for the series to play. Therefore it would be compulsory that all of the health and safety protocols agreed to by the ECB and CWI will have to be stringently applied at the grounds and that includes testing both teams regularly,” Best said.
The former right-handed opener suggested that the West Indies players be tested twice in the two weeks period before they travel to England and then during the tour.
“I think the players should be tested before they leave for England and after they arrive there to ensure that the players have not contracted COVID-19. The gestation period is about two weeks so they will need to be tested fairly often. Whether or not the authorities in England would be prepared to test the players this often is a different matter, but I hope CWI insists that regular testing is a must if the tour takes place,” Best told Barbados TODAY.
He stressed that playing at closed venues and the limited mobility for the players because of the pandemic was going to be difficult for the cricketers.
“A batsman loves to hear the applause of the crowd when he plays a glorious cover drive, a fast bowler’s adrenaline rises a couple more notches when he is being spurred on by the spectators to bowl a bouncer at a batsman. If the matches are played behind closed doors this vital aspect of the game will be missing. It will be also very difficult for the cricketers who like their freedom while on tour and enjoy the luxury of moving around freely. But they will have to accept that these are not normal times and understand why certain restrictions are being placed on them,” the former Barbados captain explained.
According to Best, the livelihood of the players was one of the compelling reasons why the tour should take place.
“Cricketers need to continue earning a living. The livelihood of the players must be taken into account. Therefore one would expect that they would want to play, first of all to represent their country, but even more importantly to earn a living. I think that is one of the most compelling
reasons why the tour should go on,” Best said.
He stressed that the world needs sporting entertainment that brings immense satisfaction to lovers of sports and pointed out that the Germany Football League (Bundesliga) restarted last week and moves were afoot to start the National Football League in the United States.
Best outlined a few principles which in his view cricketers and policymakers would have to master in their bid to survive the coronavirus.
“They must make intelligent decisions and choices, common sense will have to prevail at all times and the players will have to accept personal responsibly. They are going to want to protect themselves and those around them so personal protective equipment is going to be important. Whether players are going to go on the field with facemasks, that will be good because it will give a measure of comfort and security to both teams, is left to be seen. I believe that in the future players might have to make personal sacrifices and forgo a few tours if they think that the health and safety protocols that are intended to combat the pandemic will not be met in the countries they are scheduled to tour. Cricket is part of the sports industry and as long as all of the safety requirements are put in place to protect our cricketers from becoming victims of COVID-19, I have no objection to them playing the game and supporting themselves and their families,” Best said.