Isolation units and Coronavirus checkpoints at cricket grounds could see the West Indies still making the trip to that country for closed-door games.

The West Indies were scheduled to start a three-Test duel with England at T/he Oval, Edgbaston, and Lord’s on June 4 until the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Europe threatened to derail those plans.

The ECB and Cricket West Indies have been trying to come up with solutions to keep what is expected to be a lucrative series alive.

According to reports, the ECB is stepping up plans to resume cricket in June, but with no spectators, but that broadcasting would still go ahead since that was safer and that is where the majority of money to be earned from the series would be in any case.

The approach, ECB Director of Special Projects, Steve Elworthy, explained that any approach involving re-starting cricket in England would mean creating a sterile environment, safe for players and staff.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) decision to award the Regional first-class title to runaway leaders Barbados Pride in its aborted season is untidy, although widely accepted.

The Pride were dominant all season and I am quite sure they would have emerged champions in a completed 2019-20 campaign but the fact is their lead was not impregnable with two rounds remaining.

To declare the season annulled must have been a huge consideration, primarily because the championship was incomplete and an outcome contrary to the current standings was still possible, even if unlikely.

These unforeseen circumstances should now force the CWI’s competition organisers to include a section in the conditions covering an incomplete season.

With 134.8 points, the Pride were a massive 40.2 points ahead of nearest rivals T&T Red Force (94.6) after eight completed rounds with the dethroned champions Guyana Jaguars and the Jamaica Scorpions joint third on 91.8 points.

The maximum points on offer for any winning team for each round in the 10-game home and away format is 24 points, meaning the second-placed Red Force could have finished with 142.6 points after the 10 completed rounds, clearly ahead of where the Barbados Pride are now.

No one could have foreseen the dramatic turn of events in all our lives the COVID-19 Pandemic has triggered and massive decisions have had to be made.

The CWI Board of Directors “unanimously agreed” to award the Headley/Weekes Trophy to the Barbados Pride on the basis that a huge majority of the season (80%) had been completed and on projection and form it was reasonable to deduce that the Pride would have gone on to easily top the championship table. The Pride needed a mere 7.8 points from their remaining two games to secure the title and their performance curve was comfortably heading there.

Add to that, their fast-bowling battery poised to earn valuable pace-bowling points -- world-class Test bowlers Jason Holder and Kemar Roach plus Chemar Holder and Keon Harding, No.2 and No.7 respectively on the list of the championship’s most prolific wicket-takers.

The CWI would have also considered recent precedents in the issue. In New Zealand, the 26-point league-leaders Wellington Firebirds were declared winners of their National Plunket Shield with the last two rounds of the competition cancelled even though their lead was not unassailable.

New South Wales (NSW) were also given the Sheffield Shield title in Australia after the cancellation of the final also as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. NSW were declared champions after “leading the competition through nine rounds" Cricket Australia said in a statement.

The CWI’s decision to award the Pride their first title since back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014 had “no dissenting voices” in the Board room and I have, up to this point, heard not a single complaint about the unorthodox decision.

I am eagerly awaiting the 2019-20 English Premier League football conclusion. Big leaders Liverpool are 25 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City and need six more points to be mathematically sure of the title. The push is to have the season completed no matter what but should it happen that the season is incomplete, would they award Liverpool the title?

Boxing has some clearly defined rules regarding aborted bouts, if for instance injury – example an accidental head-butt -- terminates a world championship contest. A technical draw, a virtual no-result, if the bout is halted within the first five rounds (halfway stage) but if the bout is halted beyond the halfway stage, a winner is declared by a “technical decision” based on who is leading on the scorecards at the point of the stoppage.

There is room for a leader being awarded a victory in an aborted competition, but I am more accepting of it, if the pre-existing rules stated it.

This uncontested CWI decision to crown the Barbados Pride may have also been an example of stakeholders recognizing in these times of a sweeping worldwide pandemic taking tens of thousands of lives, that understanding and compassion are human virtues winning over fighting and quarreling, which I guess is good.

Congrats to the Barbados Pride though who are rewarded for being the undisputed best in the championship.

They stuttered in an opening-game loss to the Windward Islands Volcanoes but then reeled off five consecutive wins over the Jaguars, Scorpions and Leeward Islands Hurricanes before a revenge win in the sixth round over the Volcanoes, and, to accentuate their supremacy, lashed five-time defending champions Jaguars by a massive 235 runs to close out the shortened season.

The Barbados Pride were crowned kings of the West Indies Championship even though the season ended with two games yet to play. Is there are an argument that they are undeserving?

The United Kingdom’s problems with containing COVID-19 could mean England’s home series against the West Indies could be moved to the Caribbean where the threat has been markedly lower than Europe.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England Cricket Board (ECB) have been trying to find a work-around so as not to delay the start of the three-Test series set to begin on June 4 at the Kia Oval.

COVID-19 cases are expected to peak in the United Kingdom in June, making it almost a certainty that the start of the English domestic season will be delayed.

The Caribbean, if it continues to remain relatively COVID-19 free, could become third-party hosts for other series, reportedly offering to provide the venues for England’s home fixtures against Pakistan in July.

There is also the possibility that the tour of England could be put off until September, after the West Indies host New Zealand in three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals from July 8 to July 19 and after South Africa visit for two Tests and five T20Is scheduled for July 23-August 16.

A delay could also mean that the Hero Caribbean Premier League could be pushed back all the way until December.

Cricket West Indies (CWI), acting on the recommendation of its Medical Advisory Committee (MAC), has taken the decision to suspend all its tournaments and face-to-face group meetings from March 16 onwards, for a minimum of 30 days.

The move is being taken out of an abundance of caution in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Major events across the sporting world have been taking action over recent days in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CWI tournaments affected are:

Last two rounds of the West Indies Championship
The Women's CMI Super 50 Cup
Regional Under 15s Boys Championship
Regional Under 19s Girls Championship

All urgent CWI Board matters will be addressed via teleconference.

Dr Israel Dowlat, the CWI's chief medical officer, said: "The health and safety of our players, officials and staff, are of paramount importance to CWI and we have advised the Board of Directors to take proactive policy steps to decrease the growing risk of contamination and spread of the virus."

Dr Donovan Bennett, the chairman of MAC, said the decision was in accordance with medical best practice and an "abundance" of caution.

"We are acting based on medical best practice as well as in an abundance of caution. The ongoing gathering of even small groups of spectators, cricketers and match officials could pose a risk to some persons of contracting the virus and being stranded in quarantine in a non-resident country for a prolonged period. Clearly this pandemic is still evolving, and we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the Caribbean."

CWI has also advised all territorial boards and local cricket associations to follow the advice of their respective Ministries of Health.

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) is set to welcome a new kit sponsor, Castore Sportswear, onboard for the new year after agreeing to a three-year deal reportedly worth £3m (US$3,903,300).

The new sponsorship deal will come as good news for the Caribbean cricket team, which has struggled in that particular area for the past several years as they are set to name a third sponsor in two years. 

The team’s most recent deals included a three-year contract with Australian sportswear brand BLK, signed in 2017, and a two-year agreement with Caribbean hotel chain Sandals in 2018.

For the English-based apparel franchise, who are relative newcomers to the sportswear market, the deal represents a significant escalation as the Windies will become the company's first major sports team deal.  Castore previously signed British tennis star Andy Murray in March.  The partnership with the West Indies is expected to commence in June when the team tours England before heading to Australia to defend the T20 World Cup title.  Castore chief executive Tom Beahon framed the partnership as an arrangement that should mutually benefit entities in similar positions.

“We see an opportunity to partner with like-minded teams who like us are aspirational, but see themselves as challenging,” Beahon told the Financial Times.

“Realistically, we’re not going to sponsor Real Madrid in the next two or three years but in the level below those trophy assets, there are teams and countries who are looking for a partner who will invest in them more than maybe the big guys will do.” 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and Whisper, the sport and live production specialist, are pleased to announce a new trial partnership, which sees Whisper as the host broadcaster of the West Indies vs Ireland series in January 2020.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) have delivered messages of condolence at the passing of West Indies cricketer Basil Butcher.

Six candidates have been short-listed for the post of head coach of the West Indies Cricket team, Cricket West Indies announced on Friday.

Trinidadian allrounder Kieron Pollard said he is honoured to lead the West Indies One Day International and T20 teams. The 32-year-old Pollard replaces Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite who led the ODI and T20 teams respectively.

Cricket West Indies has officially launched the search for a permanent head coach for the regional side in time for their upcoming away tour against Afghanistan that begins in November.

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has admitted to feeling let down by the Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI), following its controversial decision to dismiss the coaching staff ahead of the ICC World Cup.

Less than a month after taking the reins of the association from the four-term president Dave Cameron, the decision was taken to dismiss interim coach Richard Pybus and the entire selection panel.

 The decision was particularly debatable with the ICC World Cup just a few weeks away and the interim-coach and team having put on an outstanding performance against England, the world’s number one team, and eventual World Cup winners only a month prior.

Despite being a huge supporter of the Skerritt slate ahead of it being elected, Richards strongly believed it was a major misstep.

“To be fair I did put my everything behind my support for the individual who is at the helm, but I wasn’t happy with the so-called coming into that particular position and just the way in which subtle little changes were made to get certain individuals in place for them to be managers and coaches of the tour to the World Cup.  I didn’t like the start and I made my point, Richards said.

“I didn’t like the start. I am hoping that the finish is much better than the start.”

Windies top order batsman Shai Hope has rejected claims a coaching change just ahead of the start of the ICC World Cup was a major contributing factor to the team’s dismal display.

Despite being considered as one of the teams capable of causing problems at the tournament, the Windies went on to register just two wins, which left them second to last in the overall standings. 

A part of the optimism heading into the tournament was fueled by the team’s performance against England during its tour of the Caribbean.  Richard Pybus was the interim coach in charge of the team’s exceptional performance for the series of matches against the English but was replaced with Floyd Reifer only weeks ahead of the World Cup by a newly appointed Cricket West Indies (CWI) administration.

The move has led to criticism in some quarters, with many accusing the administration of unsettling the team.  Hope was, however, quick to insist that the players take full responsibility for the poor results.

“Regardless of what happened behind the scenes, we have to go out there and play cricket,” Hope said.

“It doesn’t matter what happened the week before, the day before, two years before. It’s about crossing that line and playing the hardest you can for the region.”

The Windies started brightly with a big win over Pakistan but slumped to defeats at the hands of Australia, England, Bangladesh, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka before winning a game against Afghanistan.  Hope admitted it was difficult to pinpoint what went wrong.

“If I knew the answer to that, I reckon we’d be in the semis. It’s just one of those things. As I said, we didn’t play the better cricket on the day, and in a tournament like this, you have to basically play your best game each game.”

 

Despite the promise he has shown, Windies batsman Sunil Ambris has not been given a new central contract even as Cricket West Indies (CWI) have increased the number offered in the new contract period. 

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