Player safety major consideration for CWI on England tour — Skerritt


 (CMC) — Cricket West Indies (CWI) President Ricky Skerritt has given the assurance that the tour of England will only take place once the regional body is satisfied that the safety of players will not be compromised, and that conditions in the United Kingdom do not put them at a disadvantage.

Arguing that speculation over preconditions for the tour was premature since both CWI and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) were still in the discussion phase, Skerritt said his administration would not agree to the series unless the environment was “mutually suitable”.

“It is well known the West Indies team was due to travel to England in another 10 or so days,” Skerritt told i95FM Sports here.

“Obviously that’s not going to happen, and Cricket West Indies and the English Cricket Board have been in discussions for a few weeks now, staying in touch, keeping each other updated on the situation locally — speculating, hoping, imagining, wishing, praying that we could have the tour take place sometime in the summer.

“I think it would be premature for us to get too excited by what the terms and conditions would be. There’s been no confirmation of anything — different ideas have come up based on medical advice.

“Both organisations have had both medically oriented and cricket technical discussions. We’ve included the key cricket folks — coach, captain, director of cricket – speaking with their counterparts in England.”

He added: “But let’s be clear, Cricket West Indies will not be making any decisions that don’t make sense under the circumstances but obviously, unless things change dramatically within the next month or two, it won’t be normal circumstances.

“So the circumstances that prevail and the conditions that are placed will be determined to be only suitable if they’re mutually suitable.”

In recent days speculation has swirled about a July start for the three-Test series, which was originally carded to begin June 4 but had to be scrapped because of the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19).

The ECB has postponed the start of its domestic season until May 28 but with the virus already resulting in 219,000 infections and nearly 32,000 deaths, doubt remains over when the season can actually get under way.

Media reports in England have indicated that the ECB are considering strict isolation, quarantine and testing protocols for players and officials, along with the use of “biosecure” playing facilities in order for the series to proceed.

While conceding that cricket globally would have to undergo changes to accommodate safety concerns once it restarts, Skerritt stressed if the tour goes ahead players will not be pressured to make themselves available, even though he did not foresee that situation occurring since all stakeholders were being kept abreast of discussions.

“This is going to have to be a win-win tour in terms of the arrangement. Nobody will be put at a disadvantage, nobody will be abused,” he pointed out.

“We’re trying to put things in place where cricketers can play cricket – that’s what cricketers do. They make a living out of playing cricket and some cricketers may have to make some adjustments as we go along, especially in the first few months of the return to cricket.”

He continued: “This is too early to speak about quarantine and length of quarantine, but you cannot go to Britain to play sport or do anything else without complying without whatever terms and conditions and protocols operate at the time.

“Similarly, Caribbean cricketers are not going to be able to move around the region or get involved in preparation camps and other things that are necessary before a tour like this without it being cleared by the health authorities and so on, so Cricket West Indies is not in anyway trying to force any unreasonable ideas down anybody’s throat.

“We believe in inclusivity of planning, we believe in getting the stakeholders involved in understanding what it is they’re getting into so the cricketers are not going to be jumping into a blind hole; in fact, they should not be jumping into a hole at all.

“If this English tour is going to take place, we just have to make sure the terms and conditions and the environment for good health and good hygiene and for safety in the context of COVID-19, that they prevail in ways that don’t make cricket impossible to be played.”