ECB announces plans for England-West Indies series behind closed doors

By Sports Desk June 02, 2020

England are set to face West Indies in three Tests in as many weeks in a behind-closed-doors series at Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl, subject to government clearance.

The Windies were due to face England in matches at The Oval, Edgbaston and Lord's in a series beginning on June 4.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated a cricket calendar in which England are also set to face Australia, Pakistan and Ireland.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Tuesday that a three-Test series without spectators is scheduled to start on July 8 at the Ageas Bowl.

Old Trafford will host the second and third Tests.

The venues have been selected from a group of four that submitted an interest, having had to demonstrate to the ECB board an ability to meet criteria surrounding biosecurity, medical screening-testing provision, footprint to enable social distancing and venue-cricket operations.

Edgbaston was picked as a contingency venue and will be utilised for additional training throughout July.

The Windies are due to arrive in England on June 9 and will use Old Trafford as their base for training and quarantining before travelling to the Ageas Bowl.

ECB director of events Steve Elworthy said: "Our main objective is to deliver a safe environment for all stakeholders including players, match officials, operational staff, essential venue staff, broadcasters and media.

"We are in daily dialogue with government and our medical team, who have been incredibly supportive during this period. These are our proposed dates and they remain subject to UK Government approval.

"We would like to thank Cricket West Indies for their co-operation and dedication in making this tour a reality, and we all look forward to the prospect of cricket returning in the coming weeks."

A decision on the scheduled series with Australia, Pakistan and Ireland will be made at a later date.

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    On the eve of the West Indies historic bio-secure Test series against England, I thought it interesting to take a look back at the last time the Caribbean outfit had any good days in England.

    To find that, I never had to look too far into memory, with two of the players on the tour in defence of the Wisden Trophy, set to line up against the English.

    It was 2017 and the West Indies had been battered 3-1 over the course of an ODI series and by August 25, were well and truly underdogs after England thrashed them by an innings and 209 runs in the first Test.

    Maybe the West Indies were just too inexperienced to compete against England in England, maybe the team needed more time.

    Even after day one when England had been blown away for 258, the confidence of the West Indies at Headingley was still not there.

    The West Indies had been in a stronger position than when the innings ended but Ben Stokes had scored a century. With the West Indies having notched just 168 and 137 in the innings they played in the last game, Stokes’ milestone may have been a backbreaker.

    But the West Indies were made of sterner stuff than that.

    Kieran Powell had made just five on the evening before, while night watchman Devendra Bishoo only managed one. Kyle Hope, who had a disastrous time in England was also back in the pavilion for the West Indies.

    Still, a belligerent Kraigg Brathwaite was there, determined to make up for his failures in the West Indies’ first game.

    Brathwaite would show great courage and mental strength in scoring 134 from 249 deliveries.

    He was batting with Shai Hope at number five, and it was felt that if any of these were to lose the plot, the West Indies would fold.

    Well, neither of them did and in the case of Hope, he wouldn’t fall until three runs away from the 150-run milestone.

    Hope struck 23 boundaries and interestingly, never went over the ropes once, though his 253-ball knock was not slow.

    The Caribbean then watched as England recovered from their slow start, scoring 490-8 in their second innings thanks to an all-round batting performance.

    Mark Stoneman had scored 52, while Joe Root had gotten to 72 before he got out. Stokes, fresh off his century scored 58. But the runs didn’t stop coming after the West Indies got into the lower order. Moeen Ali, batting at number eight, would score an aggressive 84, and Chris Woakes could not be beaten and had scored 61 when the innings was declared.

    With 322 needed, the Caribbean again held its breath.

    Powell, 23, and Hope, naught, might have meant that collective breath would not have to be held for too much longer, but there was ‘Hope’.

    The Barbados teammates came together with the score on 53-2 and when Brathwaite departed at 95, five runs short of an immortal, the worries set in again.

    The West Indies were 197-3, still a long way off 322.

    Roston Chase then scored an invaluable 30, while Jermaine Blackwood added 41.

    All the while, Hope stood supreme, resolute. He would not lose that day.

    He would add 14 more boundaries to the 23 he caressed in the first innings and guide the West Indies to a famous victory.

  • 'Cornwall size no issue for Windies'- insists head coach Simmons 'Cornwall size no issue for Windies'- insists head coach Simmons

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    Despite his success in regional cricket and solid performances for both West Indies A and West Indies squads, the player's physique has often drawn attention for looking different than the average cricketer.  Standing at 6 ft 5 inches tall, Cornwall weighs somewhere in the region of 308 pounds.

    For a time, it was believed to be keeping the player from being selected to the regional squad, after a successful debut against India last year, however, the spinner's stock seems to be on the rise.  For the current tour of England, Cornwall could be in contention for a spot in the team as the primary or secondary spinner and the coach was quick to insist there are no concerns with his size or mobility.

    “His size has not been an issue, if you see Rahkeem at slip and some of the catches that he takes at slip, there is no issue,” Simmons told members of the media in a Zoom press conference call on Monday.

    “I think he is capable of bowling a lot of overs.  He has bowled an enormous amount of overs through the years for the Leeward Islands, West Indies A, and the West Indies team in our Test match against India.  So, none of it has been a hindrance to him.  He had a little knee injury and that has been fixed so now he is strong as ever,” he added.

    On debut, against India, Cornwall claimed 3 wickets, before claiming 10 against Afghanistan in his second Test.

     

  • ‘It doesn't matter where runs come from’- Holder claims onus to score not just on top order ‘It doesn't matter where runs come from’- Holder claims onus to score not just on top order

     West Indies captain Jason Holder believes too much attention has been spent focusing on the possible deficiency of the team’s top order and backed the rest of the batting unit to pick-up the runs-scoring slack if needed.

    Ahead of the start of the West Indies England tour, doubts have repeatedly been raised of not just the team’s top order, but the overall unit as well, as they prepare to stand up to an experienced English bowling line-up. Since a 2-1 defeat to England, on their last tour in 2017, West Indies have a batting average of 23.59 across 19 Tests.  Nor can the team take comfort in some of the showings during the recent intra-squad matches, which served as preparation for the series.  In the final warm-up, a top-five of Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase found themselves reduced to 9 for 3 and 49 for 5.

    “The runs don’t have to only come from the top order.  I think we are putting a lot of emphasis on the top order.  Yes, they probably haven’t lived up to the expectations but in general, it’s a team sport and we just have to put runs on the board,” Holder told members of the media during a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

    “Personally, I don’t care, it’s just for us to put runs on the board and give our bowlers something to work with.”  

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