England’s Test series against the West Indies could move a significant step closer on Thursday, with a board meeting in the Caribbean set to consider plans for the tour.
Hopes are high that the three-match series, originally scheduled for June but postponed as part of the wider coronavirus shutdown, can go ahead in July behind closed doors.
The Cricket West Indies board is due to hold a teleconference to discuss the England and Wales Cricket Board’s ‘bio-security’ arrangements and other information regarding safe hosting of the matches with a view to approving the trip.
If the green light is given the next stage of preparation could begin, with squad selection, medical screenings, Covid-19 testing and travel arrangements with various islands all on the agenda. Charter flights will be required given the complexities involved in the region and the ECB is ready to foot that bill.
With a mooted start date of July 8 for the first Test, CWI is keen to begin moving forward with those matters in order to arrive in the United Kingdom at least four weeks earlier. The Ageas Bowl in Hampshire and Lancashire’s Emirates Old Trafford are in line to host the games, although other venues have been discussed in recent weeks.
Should there be no exemption to the 14-day quarantine imposed by the UK Government on overseas arrivals, it is expected that the touring squad will be able to combine that period with a training camp by staying at, or near, a cricket ground.
The status of quarantine restrictions, along with any other governmental clearance, is subject to change at all times and is likely to be one of the final issues settled.
Eighteen England bowlers are already back in individual training regimes, with a wider list of batsmen, wicketkeepers and white-ball specialists expected to be announced on Friday.