LONDON: Cricket West Indies (CWI) Chief Executive Johnny Grave has said the players will not be ‘coerced’ into going to England for the three-Test series as the UK struggles to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The West Indies had originally been scheduled to play the three Tests in June but the series has been pushed back due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

More than 30,000 people have died in the United Kingdom and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last month decided to extend the suspension of the professional game until July 1.

“There will be no coercing players into this tour,” Grave told the BBC. “If you grow up in a country where the population might only be 60,000 or 70,000 people, to be thinking the UK has had over 30,000 deaths is a massive figure.”

The ECB is hopeful of hosting the Test series later this year and Grave said that while there was reason to be optimistic safety concerns had to come first.

“We have to be absolutely clear it’s safe first and foremost,” he added. “The ECB have got a long way to go to get government approval to be absolutely certain that bio-secure cricket will work.

“The players would be very much in a bubble. We said to the ECB we’d want four weeks of preparation before the first Test. We’re probably looking at three back-to-back Test matches.

“It would be seven weeks of very much training at the ground, staying at the ground and very much being isolated within that hotel environment.”

Grave said a ‘wide pool’ of players had been consulted and none of them would be obliged to tour.

Grave admitted that with West Indies players coming from different islands that have different levels of restrictions due to the virus, getting them onto one plane would be a challenge but not ‘insurmountable’.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2020

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