West Indies players ‘very nervous’ about England tour

West Indies' Shannon Gabriel and England's Joe Root. [Reuters]

Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave thinks this summer’s tour of England will go ahead, but says his players will be “very nervous” about travelling.

The three-Test series, due to start on June 4, has been postponed until at least July because of coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is exploring the use of bio-secure venues and quarantining players.

“There will be no coercing players into this tour,” Grave said.

“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.”

Asked if he can see the Tests taking place, he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Tuffers and Vaughan show: “I think I can. We’re right to be optimistic.”

But he added: “We have to be absolutely clear that it’s safe first and foremost.

“The ECB have got a long way to go to get UK government approval to be absolutely certain that bio-secure cricket will work.”

Grave said the Cricket West Indies board had contacted a “wide pool of players” about the prospect of travelling to England.

Empty stadiums

Games would likely be played without fans, and could be staged at one venue where players can stay on site - such as Old Trafford and Southampton - and be tested regularly for coronavirus.

“The players would be very much in a bubble,” said Graves.

“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.”

The West Indies is made up of 15 countries and territories which are under various levels of restrictions because of the pandemic, and Grave said getting the players on one plane would be “a logistical challenge but certainly not insurmountable”.

England are also scheduled to play Pakistan, Australia and Ireland this summer, fixtures which the ECB hopes to condense into the latter stages of the season.

That could mean players spending several weeks together without being able to leave the ground.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said it will be a “huge mental challenge”.

“If you’ve got 30 players that are potentially going to have to be locked in their country, at cricketing venues, I really do worry,” he said.

“When you’re in the UK you’re so used to playing the game and then getting in your car and going back to your family straight after the match.

“It is unprecedented times. It has to be done because we need the TV money for the game, but I do worry for the players.”

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