Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave has hailed the upcoming women’s England tour as a good way for the region to ‘kick start’ the women’s program.

The men’s program restarted under similar circumstances when the team became one of the first to resume playing international cricket, with its tour against England last month.  With the women’s inactive for the entire period, concerns were raised regarding a need to keep them engaged and active.

With South Africa pulling out of the tour, due to prevailing concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the regional team was invited to fill the spot.

“It’s similar to the men in as much as the ECB has said they understand the financial position that we are in and they have agreed to pick up the cost.  So, this provides us with the best opportunity to restart our women’s program,” Grave told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“With the Guyana and Trinidad borders shut, getting the women together has been impossible.  They haven’t been training since March, since they returned from the World T20 in Australia.  This provides us with the opportunity to have three weeks of training camp prior to a couple of weeks’ worth of games.  We are playing five international T20s.  So, it really has kickstarted our women’s program, which we have been trying to do.”

The West Indies Women will play England in five Vitality International T20 matches at the Incora County Ground, Derby in September.

Cricket West Indie CEO Johnny Grave has expressed delight with the start of this season’s Caribbean Premier League (CPL) tournament, amidst complications caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

The West Indies became one of the first teams to return to international cricket last month, after embarking on a three-match tour of England.  The entire series, which the West Indies lost 2-1, took place in a biosecure environment.

Likewise, the region has been among the first to return to hosting a major T20 franchise tournament when the CPL tipped off on Tuesday.  The entire tournament will take place in Trinidad and Tobago, where another bio-secure environment has been established.  Grave believes the return of the tournament to the region’s pitches will provide a boost to players and fans alike, despite this edition being played in an empty stadium.

“I think it’s great that we have cricket back on in the region.  We are very proud of the fact that with England and Wales Cricket Board we were able to bring international cricket back to the world,” Grave said.

“It’s great for everyone in the region, it’s brilliant for our players.  It’s great for cricket fans around the world that they’ve now got almost doubleheaders every single day for the next few weeks to enjoy,” he added.

“We haven’t had any regional cricket since the West Indies Championship finished in March.  So, I think the West Indians involved in CPL alone will pick up collectively US$2m.  It is really important to them as professional cricketers that they can earn some much-needed match fees from the tournament.”

The West Indies will be among four teams that will tour New Zealand during the home season, according to media reports. The Caribbean side is scheduled to play Tests and T20 Internationals in line with the Future Tours Programme.

 David White, CEO of New Zealand Cricket said the tours would go ahead despite the ongoing pandemic, saying that managed isolation arrangements are being worked out for the visiting teams.

"We are making tremendous progress. I was just on the phone to the West Indies, they're confirmed, Pakistan is confirmed, Australia and Bangladesh... so 37 days of international cricket," White told reporters in Auckland.

However, CWI CEO Johnny Grave told Sportsmax.TV that nothing has been confirmed for the Caribbean side to visit New Zealand where there were no reported COVID-19 infections for more than three months.

The West Indies recently returned from their three-Test bio-secure #Raisethebat series in England. The hosts won the series 2-1.

Any possibility of South Africa playing in the West Indies later this year will largely be dependent on the IPL and the lifting of travel restrictions that will allow the team to travel to the Caribbean.

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons was granted permission to attend his father-in-law’s funeral in England last Friday. That’s the word from Cricket West Indies CEO Johnny Grave, who was responding to queries from Sportsmax.TV.

Simmons has been self-isolating since and will only be permitted to re-join the team on Thursday, July 2, if he returns two negative Covid-19 tests.

However, his decision to leave the bio-secure location has raised some concerns and questions over whether the head coach unilaterally decided to leave the facility where the team has been preparing for the coming three-Test series beginning July 8.

Grave assured that Simmons received permission from the Chief Medical Officers of Cricket West Indies and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

“Yes, he left to go to his father-in-law's funeral on Friday and is now going through the re-entry process having had his whole exit and entry approved and managed by the medical teams,” Grave said.

In Simmons’ absence, assistant coaches Roddy Estwick and Rayon Griffith will oversee the Windies four-day, first-class fixture that starts on Monday.

Floyd Reifer will be the batting coach

Cricket West Indies (CWI) Johnny Grave has sought to set aside rumours that the regional team was obligated to accept the tour of England because of a US$3m loan they received from the England Cricket Board (ECB) earlier this year.

The West Indies and England are set for a return to international cricket next month with a three-match Test series, in England.  With the spread and effects of the coronavirus still very much evident in the UK, however, some have questioned the wisdom of the decision, particularly based on the risk posed to the players.

With 291,409 thousand reported cases and 41,279 deaths, the UK is the hardest-hit region in Europe.  The ECB has, however, been taking precautions with a chartered flight for the team to the UK and the implementation of a biosecure environment for the series, which will keep the players quarantined from the rest of the general public for the duration of the tour.  There is still, however, some risk attached but Grave has been quick to dismiss suggestions the invitation was accepted because of a debt owed.

“We got a three-million-dollar advance of our ICC distribution that was given to us by ECB.  It’s a short-term interest-free advance because its due to be paid back in full in July, directly by ICC to ECB and will be deducted from the money we get,” Grave told Barbados Nationnews.

“In early May when we received it, we weren’t discussing it at all because the situation in the UK was not the state that it is now.  So, I guarantee you it’s not linked in any way shape, or form to our touring or not touring.”

A decision on whether the West Indies will go ahead with their three-Test tour of England could be made by Thursday this week, CWI CEO Johnny Grave has said.

The West Indies tour of England this summer is becoming increasingly likely following positive discussions between the medical team and staff of the English Cricket Board and the CWI on Monday.

Both boards have been in discussions since the start of the month intent on charting a pathway to the West Indies travelling to England for three Tests in July.

Initially scheduled for June, the tour was been postponed because of fears over player safety caused by the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

However, late last week, CWI notified 30 players that they should be prepared to travel and play in England in July if it is decided that the tour would go ahead. It was also revealed that further discussions were set to take place on Monday.

CWI CEO Johnny Grave confirmed to Sportsmax.TV Tuesday that those Monday talks went well.

“The ECB is confident that they can deliver a safe plan for bio-secure behind closed doors cricket that will meet the UK Government guidelines and will therefore likely secure their board's approval,” Grave told Sportsmax.TV today.

“We will have further meetings and discussions this week with the ECB as we try and plan for the Test Tour taking place this summer in an environment where the number-one priority is the health and safety of all players and staff."

During an interview on Sportsnation Live on Nationwide Radio in Jamaica on Saturday, Grave reiterated that safety was the primary concern of the CWI.

“We would have to be absolutely certain that our players and support staff would be in a safe environment in order for us to play cricket,” he said while explaining the conditions under which the team would travel and play in the UK.

“What it means at this stage is that we would use charter flights to first collect players in the Caribbean and then to make our way across the Atlantic. We wouldn’t be on aircraft with any other passengers. There would be private charters for our players and team.

“Then once we land in the UK we would undergo a two-week quarantine period, which would be at a cricket facility, so the players would have the opportunity to play and train. They would be the only ones in that secure environment.”

Grave said the hotel staff, ground staff and other personnel would be tested regularly and would have to remain on-site for the duration. “Once they enter that bio-secure environment no one would be allowed to come or go, so they’d be in lockdown within a cricket venue with a hotel on-site,” he said.

According to Grave, the CWI medical and support staff have determined that the Windies would need at least four weeks to get the players into the condition that they need to be to face England in the Test matches.

 

Reports have emerged that Cricket West Indies has contacted 29 regional players telling them to prepare for a possible tour of England this coming July.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have agreed to postpone both the Women’s Colonial Medical Insurance One Day International (ODI) Series against South Africa Women, scheduled to begin at the end of the month in Jamaica and Trinidad, as well as the Men’s ‘A’ Team Series scheduled to commence in Antigua in June.

England Test captain Joe Root is in support of finding a way to make sure his side can welcome a visit from the West Indies as early as July.

For that to happen, the players would have to go through rigid isolation and testing protocols, as well as austere social distancing measures.

Of course, the proposal will include officials as well as media and the England skipper thinks it can work.

“I’m optimistic about it. It would be a real shame if it doesn’t happen. The public are desperate for some live sport and the guys are missing it,” said Root.
“The players would be sectioned off in one part of the hotel and would be in isolation together. There would be no interaction with the media, the TV crews or even the opposition when off the pitch.

“We would have separate lunchrooms. It would have a different feel to it but it’s probably manageable. Hopefully that is the case.”

According to the proposals, the three Tests would be played at ‘bio-secure’ venues behind closed doors.

Those venues, the proposal points out, are those that have hotels on location, like Manchester, Southampton and Headingly.

Root, while optimistic, is cognizant of the fact that Cricket West Indies (CWI) would have to take the risk.

In response, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder, has said his side would have to be certain of their safety before saying yes to such a proposal.

“This thing has been really, really serious as we all know and has claimed quite a few lives throughout the world and that’s the last thing any of us would really want,” said Holder.

“I think we’ve got to play the safety card first before we can even think about resuming our normal lives.”

In the meantime, CWI Chief Executive, Johnny Grave, has said the England Cricket Board’s proposals were being considered but that first all the moving parts would have to be understood.
England will be desperate to get back the Wisden Trophy they lost to the West Indies last year for the first time in a decade.

Germany are set to restart their Bundesliga campaign and other European countries are looking to follow suit earliest.

The England and Wales Cricket Board, Cricket Australia, are actively looking at ways to restart cricket in their countries. Cricket West Indies have said nothing, except to say salaries might be cut in the near future.

Smaller cricket nations like the West Indies and Bangladesh, as you would imagine, are closer to the ground in terms of how much of a cushion they have for (unimaginable) eventualities like COVID-19.

I can understand the region taking a hit, but what I can’t understand, is how quiet the governing body for the sport here has been.

Chief Executive Officer, Johnny Grave, has made a couple of statements, one in respect to the Women’s cricket and how precarious postponements and cancellations make the sport in the region, and another about the salaries it pays out to regional players and the potential for reduction.

I get that. I get both statements. What I haven’t heard from Grave and his president Ricky Skerritt, is what, if any, strategies are being put in place for the regional game’s recovery?

And the truth is, there may be no answer to this, however, I want to know that Cricket West Indies have not just folded their hands in a time of crisis.

I have some ideas, and they may all be terrible ideas, but at the very least, I have them.

Leaders at a time like this must show their mettle.

In Jamaica, the hardest-hit Caribbean country by COVID-19, their leaders have made public, on a day-to-day basis, their strategy for fighting the spread of the disease and strategies to help those impacted.

When schools closed, there was an immediate response, with the government posting online material for primary and secondary-level education to continue.

It is too early to tell if these things work or are working, but I see the effort.

The Heads of State in the region, brought together a team, the Committee on Governance of West Indies Cricket, commissioned a report for the running of West Indies Cricket because they had said the organization, then called the West Indies Cricket Board, had fallen away badly.

The Heads of State need to now be putting their heads together to, again, ensure the survival of West Indies Cricket, they too have been silent.

Once as a young man, I faced a gunman and I had every opportunity to make good my escape, but at the time, I had never been faced with my own mortality before and I froze.

That is not likely to happen again, because having faced my mortality, I am less afraid today.

The same should be true of West Indies Cricket and its leaders. I can understand it freezing out of fear after its calamitous free-fall over the last 25 years, but now, having begun to arrest the slide, we must be bold.

Here’s one of my ideas.

Why don’t we agree to pick a country yet to be impacted or significantly impacted by the Coronavirus, have each territory pick teams, bring those teams to that island, quarantine them for 14 days, while doing the requisite Testing, put them up in a sterile location, hotels don’t have guests these days with all the lockdowns, arrange transportation to and from a venue already made sterile, do the same with a broadcaster (say SportsMax as a shameless plug), and sell the rights to a tournament?

There is no other cricket being played anywhere, so I doubt you’ll have a problem selling the only live content out there.

Like I said, could be a bad idea and maybe I’m not taking into consideration enough variables.

However, I believe sitting on your hands during this time is worse.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave has continued to insist the body will put the players' health first but remains flexible regarding the scheduling of the West Indies versus England series.

The series was originally expected to begin in London on June 4, followed by matches at Edgbaston and Lord's starting on 12 and 25 June respectively.  With the world, however, yet to assert any significant measure of control over the spread of the novel coronavirus, sporting activity remains suspended.  Even if the series between the teams is played later in the year rules banning mass gatherings would likely still be in force, meaning matches would have to take place behind closed doors.  Grave insists the CWI would remain guided by the best medical advice available and discussions surrounding the issue are already under way.

"Clearly playing in June is now not possible and we will continue our discussions with the ECB and other international boards on trying to find new dates," said Grave in a statement from the governing body.

"Our respective medical teams are beginning to discuss how this (England) series could be played whilst guaranteeing the health and safety of our players and support team,” he added.

"We will be as flexible as we can without compromising the safety of our team.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) on the advice and agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has announced the postponement of the West Indies Men’s three-Test series against England in June, to a future date to be determined.

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