The West Indies and England will boldly step into the brave new world of international cricket in the age of a global pandemic.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
That world will see players enter a bio-bubble and the West Indies have landed in England sans a few players who rejected the call up for the tour.
Players will also have a new set of regulations to work through with an additional DRS review granted by the ICC who have waived the stipulation that neutral officials must be appointed for international matches.
The 39-member West Indies touring party all tested negative for the virus ahead of departing for the UK and everyone involved in the series must agree to submit to frequent testing.
COVID-19 substitutes will be allowed in line with concussion substitutes subject to approval by the match referee. Any player exhibiting symptoms of the virus can be replaced with all venues to be outfitted for screening and isolation.
The use of saliva on the ball will be banned although match officials have been asked to be lenient in the early stages of cricket’s restart.
Swing kings like Jimmy Anderson have expressed anxiety about the ability to maintain movement with the ball as it ages, but proof positive will only come in July when the action gets underway.
The first Test of the series will take place in Southampton at the Rose Bowl while the second and third matches will take place at Old Trafford in Manchester. The venues were chosen because they feature on-site hotels within the stadium complex.
West Indies have brought an expanded squad of 25 with 11 reserve players attached to the main squad of 14.
The first cricket played after the widespread shutdowns took place in the Caribbean with a T10 tournament. The islands have thus far been spared the worst of the pandemic, but the situation in England put off Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul.
England’s cricket board are desperate to save their season, the loss of which would cost them millions but their officials and the government that have given them the go-ahead have attracted criticism for their plans to go ahead with the series.
The three-match series will be a crucial test for the viability of the widespread return of all forms of international cricket.