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Pride are regional champs, but still no decision on Windies tour of England

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

WHILE the four-day season has been cancelled and other regional cricket events have been suspended due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, there remains lingering hope for the imminent West Indies tour to England.

West Indies, holders of the Wisden Trophy after beating England 2-1 early last year in the Caribbean, are scheduled to play three return Tests in June, preceded by two warm-up games in late May.

But the global spread of the coronavirus — to date England is among countries badly hit — makes it exceedingly likely that the tour will have to be rescheduled.

The global sporting calendar has been decimated by the pandemic with this summer's Olympics Games and football's European Championship among the many events called off.

Yesterday, Cricket West Indies (CWI), after a teleconference meeting, extended the suspension of all regional cricket and preparation camps to May 31, 2020.

Earlier this month, the regional cricket body had announced the suspension of all CWI tournaments from March 16 for a minimum of 30 days due to the spread of the deadly coronavirus throughout the Caribbean.

However, the latest decision involved cancelling the four-day campaign, leaving runaway leaders Barbados Pride as tournament champions with the final two of the 10 rounds not played.

With Barbados Pride top of the points table after the eighth round, the Board unanimously agreed to award the Headley/Weekes Trophy to Barbados (Trophy is named in honour of West Indies pioneers and icons George Headley and Sir Everton Weekes).

The final points table is as follows:

Barbados Pride on 134.8 points, followed by Trinidad & Tobago Red Force with 94.6, Guyana Jaguars and Jamaica Scorpions on 91.8 points, with Windward Islands Volcanoes next on 78, and Leeward Islands Hurricanes at the foot of the table of 52.8 points.

This year's Regional Under-15s Boys' competition was also cancelled, and so too this summer's West Indies Under-15 tour to England.

CWI said the Women's Super50 and Under-19 Women's Twenty20 (T20) regional tournaments are postponed to later this year.

Following yesterday's meeting, Johnny Grave, the CWI chief executive officer, stated: “Cricket, cricketers and all our stakeholders involved in the game have been affected at various levels and we must continue to work together and act responsibly in containing the spread of the virus.

“We will continue to monitor and assess the situation and make further decisions and announcements in due course.”

He, however, did not directly address the upcoming tour to England.

A source privy to yesterday's meeting told the Jamaica Observer that England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and CWI will explore various options.

“The ECB and Cricket West Indies will have to make a determination just before that deadline whether that tour goes on or not,” the source said.

The staging of the tour in late summer or autumn is among the possibilities on the table.

West Indies are scheduled to play their opening warm-up encounter in Taunton, starting May 22, followed by another in Worcester, set to begin May 28.

The first Test at The Oval in London is slated to begin June 4. The second Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham and the third at Lord's in London are scheduled to start June 12 and 25, respectively.

In July, West Indies are set to host New Zealand in three One-Day International and three T20 contests. The matches are scheduled to be held in Antigua, Dominica, and Guyana.

Further on the horizon are two Tests against touring South Africa, set for Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia. The regional team is also scheduled to face the South Africans in five T20 Internationals. Those contests are booked for Florida in the United States and Jamaica.