The Windies touring party touched down in England nearly a week ago to begin their historic Test series in what is dubbed a “bio-secure” environment.
They are the first international sports team to arrive in the UK since the COVID-19 lockdown started in March.
The three-match Test series, slated originally to begin on June 4, will now start on July 8 at “bio-secure” venues without spectators.
All 39 members of the touring party, including 25 players, tested negative for Covid-19 before taking a charter flight from Antigua to Manchester.
However, the Windies will be without three key players who have opted out of the tour — Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, and Keemo Paul.
Now, the question that has preoccupied my mind since the three players withdrew from the squad is, what will they miss?
Yes, one can only speculate here, and wonder what if?
I would argue that at minimum, they will miss the experience of playing in a historic “bio-secure” environment, bond-building with teammates, and perhaps creating a brand for themselves.
At the same time, one may be tempted to say, “Cowad man kip soun bone” or “coward man keep sound bone.”
The fact is one cannot foresee cricket being played outside of the current type of environment that obtains in England anytime soon. Therefore, does it mean that these players are going to put their career on hold until the COVID-19 pandemic is over?
On the other hand, one could argue that the players who opted out of the squad will not miss anything much, and of course, it will not impact their careers.
For example, Darren Bravo is now an established Windies player, having started his career way back in 2010. Everyone knows that he is an integral part of the team. With more than 50 Tests and 100 ODI appearances, more than 3,500 Test and 2,900 ODI runs and 8 Test and 3 ODI centuries to his name, it is quite tough to omit a name who has performed for the Windies for quite a long time.
Shimron Hetmyer is a rising star in Windies cricket. He made his debut in 2017, and it’s fair to say he has cemented his place in the team. Though, he is yet to play a defining inning to show his talent. But, Windies cricket will not be too hard on an emerging player just for missing a series, and that also is for a good reason.
Keemo Paul is the youngest of the three players, in both age and experience. Paul has played only three Test matches, but he was part of the squad who defeated England when they toured the Caribbean last year. It would have been an important series for Keemo Paul, considering he was returning in the Test squad having last played back in February 2019. But, as said earlier, the Windies board and management will not be too hard on the players.
Management respects the decision of the players. Cricket West Indies (CWI) has clearly stated that the players who missed the series will not suffer any consequences. “CWI fully respects their decision to choose to do so. As previously stated, CWI will not hold this decision against these players when considering future selection.”
CWI believes that Jason Holder is leading an incredibly competitive squad, and the team can defend the Wisden Trophy.
Apart from these three players, Windies have most of the players who were part of the team that defeated England last year. All the players have the experience, and it will not be easy for England to win the series against Windies even at home.
The schedule for the three-match Test series is as follows:
1st Test: July 8-12, Ageas Bowl
2nd Test: July 16-20, Emirates Old Trafford
3rd Test: July 24-28, Emirates Old Trafford
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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