West Indies are not expected to face the psychological challenge of a complete bio-secure bubble on their tour of New Zealand starting next month, because of the efficient manner in which public health authorities in the south Pacific nation have managed the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Caribbean side were subjected to a stringent protocols on the tour of England last July where players were forced to bunker down in hotels based at the playing venues, with limited or no interaction with the general public.
However, the United Kingdom has been hard hit by the pandemic, resulting in half-million recorded infections and 57 000 deaths while New Zealand remarkably has reported only 1800 infections and 25 deaths.
There are currently only 39 active cases.
Convenor of selectors, Roger Harper, said while all cricket tours would now be guided by COVID-19 protocols as part of a new normal of the international game, New Zealand would provide some respite for players from the difficult mental grind of constant lockdown outside of cricket.
“This is the state of the world. There are a lot of people because of the situation who do not have an opportunity to work and I think this is the perspective we have to look at this from,” the former West Indies off-spinner told the Mason and Guest Cricket Show.
“We have an opportunity to work, we have the opportunity to play something which I’d like to think they love doing. I know it’s challenging being away from home at this time being in a different environment but I think we have to look at things from the positive perspective and I think … we have to make adjustments.
“New Zealand is a little different to England in that they have managed to be in not a bad a place relative to the COVID-19 virus as most places around the world … so they (players) won’t be in a complete bubble so to speak.
“Once the squad quarantines and they’re no infections and everything is fine, they’ll have the opportunity to move around freely so psychologically that should be a lot easier.”
West Indies will clash with the Black Caps in three Twenty20 Internationals and two Tests from November 27 to December 15, in their second tour in four months, following the resumption of international cricket.
The squad, which was this week finalised but yet to be announced, will leave the Caribbean on October 27 to facilitate mandatory quarantine and a training camp, in the buildup to the series which gets underway with a T20 International in Auckland.
According to Harper, arriving a month early in New Zealand would be key to the side’s preparations.
“It will work out a little bit better [than remaining in the Caribbean] because the players can have their quarantine and get acclimatised to the actual conditions in which they’ll be competing,” Harper pointed out.
West Indies face a stiff challenge especially in the longer format as they have not won a Test series on New Zealand soil in 25 years.
Furthermore, they have won just three of their last 19 Tests against the hosts and only seven of their last 20 Tests overall.
However, following on from their series win against England in the Caribbean last year and an impressive victory in the first Test at Southampton last July, Harper is hopeful West Indies can flourish in New Zealand.
“I would like to think that we can build on the performance in England,” Harper said.
“We won a Test match in England. We won a Test match overseas – something we haven’t been doing that consistently in the past.
“And while I thought we were in a position to do much better from the way the tour turned out, we’d like to go to New Zealand and be able to build on that, win a Test match over there and try and win the series.
“New Zealand, by the way, is no team to be under-rated. They play very well and extremely well at home and they beat India in a series down there [recently] so we know it’s going to be tough but I think we are capable of putting up very competitive performances in New Zealand.” (SportsMax)