No West Indies player will be forced to travel on the tour of England if they feel uncomfortable with arrangements, Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave has said.
“We definitely will respect any player’s decision who for whatever reason doesn’t want to tour,” Grave said last weekend.
“There will be absolutely no victimisation whatsoever. Clearly if a player doesn’t tour then it creates an opportunity for someone else to come in and represent the West Indies, and they would have their chance to play England in three Test matches and cement their place in the side.”
A 25-man side is expected to be announced this week for the tour of England which will see the Caribbean playing three Tests starting July 8.
The tour has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic which has already resulted in nearly 278,000 infections and nearly 40,000 deaths across the United Kingdom.
For the first time, a cricket series will be played at bio-secure facilities with strict, quarantine, social distancing and sanitisation protocols employed throughout.
Grave said players had been included in the ongoing discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board, and their input had been invaluable.
“The players have had lots of questions and rightly so about trying to understand what is completely new to sport and completely new to them as cricketers, in terms of what the environment will be like,” Grave explained.
“Obviously seven weeks is a relatively long tour … and they wanted to know exactly where they were going to be, how they were going to be tested, what there would be at the hotel in terms of facilities and amenities and also for some downtime, and what they could do outside of just training and playing cricket and what facilities and entertainment options would be available to them in the hotel.
“[They also wanted to know] what happens if one of them gets, not necessarily ill from COVID-19, but if they get sick or injured and what are the options. There’s an enormous amount of detailed work that has gone into this tour, not just by the England and Wales Cricket Board but by our medical practitioners here in the Caribbean.”
The tour was initially scheduled for May but had to be postponed with the UK hard hit by COVID-19, and the ECB forced to delay its entire domestic programme.
But anxious to avoid a cricket blackout of cricket during the summer, the ECB has managed to convince West Indies, along with Pakistan, to follow through on previously planned tours.
While critics have said the tour involves too many risks and little reward, Grave said it was important to CWI from a playing and commercial branding standpoint.
“This is a big tour for England financially but it’s still an important tour for us and an important tour for our number one sponsors and huge supporters in Sandals Resorts, so it’s not fair to say there’s nothing in it for Cricket West Indies,” he stressed.
“And for the players, they’re desperate to get back playing and get back training so it’s an opportunity for them to go and defend the Wisden Trophy they did so well to win back in 2019.”
West Indies are scheduled to leave the Caribbean next Tuesday.