Seven Barbadians likely to tour England as members of an extended West Indies squad for a Test series in a few months, were hard at work in the nets at Kensington Oval today. The regional team was scheduled to play a three-match Test series in the United Kingdom from June 4 to 29 but that was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
A decision on whether the West Indies will go ahead with the tour could be made by Thursday this week, Cricket West Indies’ chief executive officer Johnny Grave has stated. Grave, in an interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation, said he was increasingly confident that the CWI board would give the tour the green light.
If the tour goes ahead, it will be the first to take place under the new guidelines issued by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The West Indies will need a squad of 25 to 30 players for what is planned to be a seven-week stay in England including a month of quarantine and training before the Tests, tentatively set for July 8 to12, July 16 to 20 and July 24 to 28 behind closed doors. The most likely grounds for the Tests are Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl which are two of the bio-secure venues in the United Kingdom.
Today’s drills at Kensington Oval were supervised by head coach of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Dexter Toppin and conducted by former West Indies men’s interim head coach Floyd Reifer, West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick, former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Corey Collymore who is a member of the BCA coaching staff and Emmerson Trotman, the Barbados Pride’s head coach.
They were divided into morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning session which lasted from 10 until midday, veteran fast bowler Kemar Roach, wicketkeeper/batsman Shane Dowrich and Shamarh Brooks were taken through their exercises which consisted of batting drills, wicket-keeping drills, target bowling, fielding drills and slip catching.
In the afternoon session that lasted from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m., West Indies captain Jason Holder, opener Kraigg Brathwaite, batsman Shai Hope and all-rounder Raymon Reifer were taken through similar drills by the coaches.
During the net session, all the players adhered to the protocols that are intended to help keep the Coronavirus at bay such as physical distancing and the wearing of facemasks.
In a brief interview with Barbados TODAY, director of cricket at the BCA Steven Leslie said the sessions would be held from Monday to Saturday of each week with groups of four players and their individual coaches. He stated the sessions would continue for the next two weeks as the players prepare under the supervision of Toppin, Estwick and Reifer along with other members of the BCA’s coaching staff. He said this was all part of the process for Holder and the other selectees to get vital preparation ahead of the West Indies “possible” tour to England.
“It should be noted that there will be no more than four players along with the individual coaches at any of the sessions,” Leslie said.
Tomorrow, the trio taking part in the morning session will be rookie fast bowler Keon Harding and all-rounders Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers. In the afternoon it will be the turn of left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican, opener Shayne Moseley and young promising fast bowler Chemar Holder.
Grave previously indicated to SportsMax that the tour would only go ahead if the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could guarantee the safety of its players and support staff. During the ongoing discussions, Grave reported that the two sides were making progress and added that the ECB now believed they had a “robust and safe” plan to ensure that the series could go ahead.
“From where we sit at the moment, based on the information we have, based on the fact that every day there are less and less cases in the UK, everyone is getting increasingly confident that the tour will happen at some point,” Grave told CMC
“Our board meeting is on May 28. If the tour has to take place, by the start of June we would need to have the [CWI] board approval and support by then in order to get the charter flight logistics in place and select the players.”
If the CWI agrees, West Indies players and support staff would likely depart the Caribbean on June 8.