The stage is set. After long long time international cricket is ready to make a comeback with the West-Indies tour of England. The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is ready with the logistics to host the West-Indies team. The Cricket West Indies (CWI) board has given principle approval for the tour – but there is one small hitch. The government in United Kingdom is yet to officially sign off the tour according to some reports in the local media.
ECB management met Government Officials on Tuesday for ‘official sign off’
According to a report in Standard.co.uk, the ECB officials met Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, about the three-Test series against the West Indies on Tuesday. The English board once again presented the logistic plans to the government officials. Though they were given verbal assurances in regard to clearance of the tour but the written sign-off is still pending.
The touring party is due to arrive on a chartered flight in a week’s time, but there are still stumbling blocks to overcome with the exact ramifications of how the quarantine will apply. Though the 3 test series against the Caribbean team is scheduled to start from 8th July, the West-Indies team is slated to arrive in UK on June 8th in order to fulfill the quarantine norms.There were concerns the impending 14-day travel quarantine measures could cause too much of a logistical nightmare, despite CWI having approved the tour after lengthy talks.
ECB is now waiting for the official sign-off from the government so that the final arrangements can be made for the international cricket to resume.
Special Arrangements for the England-West Indies Series
The Test series, part of the World Test Championship, was originally slated to start on June 4 but was pushed back because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be the first international series after almost 100 days. During these Covid19 times, ECB has made special arrangements in regard to the health safety of the players and others during the tour –
1) West Indies team arriving in June and isolating for almost one month prior to the series.
2) No fans to be allowed, series to be played behind closed doors.
3) Special Charter flights to fly the West-Indies team to UK from the Caribbean.
4) Bio-Secure environment during the tour
5) Teams to stay in the complexes with-in the stadium.
6) Players and staff would be screened regularly through out the tour.
Commercial Importance of the WestIndies tour of England for ECB
The cancellation of cricket this summer will cost the ECB very dearly. According to the their own self-admittance, the board would lose $350Mn if the cricket gets interrupted this summer. The ECB is starting a new commercial journey with this tour via media rights deal with Sky Sports and BBC and the payments for the same will get jeopardized if the tour does not go ahead. Meanwhile the good news is that UK government has shown willingness to relax quarantine rules for the visiting times post June. This will boost the chances of Australia tour of England for the 3 ODI’s and 3T20 games move ahead.
The UK government has now signaled that quarantine rules for professional sport are set to be changed by the end of June, meaning that foreign teams would not need to quarantine for two weeks as long as they remained in a biosecure environment. The Aussies visit to England was originally scheduled for July but it is now hoped that it could be played in September after the West-Indies and the series against Pakistan tours are completed successfully.