England’s upcoming Test series against West Indies could be played in the Caribbean if an offer by Cricket West Indies (CWI) is accepted.
CWI reportedly made the suggestion to the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has impacted sporting events across the world, including in England which was set to host a three-Test tour starting June 4.
In a report published today, ESPNcricinfo quoted CWI CEO Johnny Grave saying he had been in communication with his ECB counterpart Tom Harrison in recent days and had “assured him that we will be as flexible, supportive and helpful as possible”.
“To that end, yes, we have offered to host the series here in the Caribbean if that is deemed helpful. The ECB would retain all commercial and broadcast rights,” Grave confirmed.
The spread of COVID-19 to the Caribbean has forced the cancellation and postponement of sporting events – cricket and other sports – but there have only been a few cases in the region’s cricket-playing nations. Up to yesterday, the United Kingdom had confirmed 1,547 cases, with 55 of those being fatal.
“This is not about us trying to take advantage of the situation,” Grave said about CWI’s offer to host the series. “It’s about the cricket community working together at a difficult time for everyone and, one of the many great things about the Caribbean is we can play cricket all year round. There has long been a special relationship between the cricket communities in the Caribbean and England and we wanted to make it clear we will do everything we can to help.”
According to ESPNcricinfo, the other option under consideration is postponing the series to September. The report also indicated that CWI also offered to host England’s three-Test series against Pakistan which is set to start on July 30.
Earlier this week, Grave told CMC Sports that while the England tour was still on, it was “a dynamic situation that is changing, quite literally, by the hour, so at the moment there’s been no announcement by the ECB about postponing any of their upcoming events”.
“Our players are due to travel at the end of April so at the moment…it’s being closely monitored, but at the moment we’ve had no reason to believe the England tour will be cancelled,” the CWI CEO said at the time.
Harrison, meantime, noting that the ECB’s summer schedule was being threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak, said last week that plans were being made for all eventualities.
“We will continue to plan for a season that proceeds as normal, but in parallel prepare for a range of different scenarios. These could include the possibility of playing matches behind closed doors, or potentially postponing or cancelling elements of the season,” he said.
It is yet to be seen if other series in the West Indies later this year will be put in jeopardy by the COVID-19 spread. The Caribbean side is scheduled to host New Zealand in three ODIs and three T20Is between July 8 and 19, with the ODI series being part of the qualification process for the 2023 World Cup.
West Indies are also due to play South Africa in two Tests – part of the World Test Championship – and five T20Is later in the month.
West Indies Women are expected to play South Africa in five ODIs from May 30 to June 10, and West Indies A are scheduled to take on South Africa A in a series from June 10 to July 9.
While no decisions have been taken on those events to date, CWI announced over the weekend that it has suspended the final two rounds of the first-class domestic championship and an entire suite of youth tournaments, for at least 30 days.
Meanwhile, the start of the lucrative Indian Premier League has been delayed from March 29 until April 15 as a precautionary measure; India has scrapped their ongoing ODI tour of South Africa; and New Zealand and host Australia also called off their limited overs series.