England captain Joe Root pulling during his century against West Indies last year. (GP)
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LONDON – England Test captain Joe Root has thrown his support behind the radical proposal aimed at ensuring the Test series against West Indies comes off in July, arguing fans were “desperate for some live sport” and players were frustrated by the lack of playing time.
West Indies were scheduled to tour England for three Tests next month but Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England Cricket Board (ECB) postponed the series with the hope of staging it during the July to September window.
If the tour comes off amidst the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, the current proposal would see the enforcement of strict quarantine, isolation and testing protocols for players and officials and equally austere social distancing measures.
“I’m optimistic about it. It would be a real shame if it doesn’t happen. The public are desperate for some live sport and the guys are missing it,” said Root.
“The players would be sectioned off in one part of the hotel and would be in isolation together. There would be no interaction with the media, the TV crews or even the opposition when off the pitch.
“We would have separate lunchrooms. It would have a different feel to it but it’s probably manageable. Hopefully that is the case.”
The three Tests would also be played behind closed doors at “bio-secure” venues like Manchester, Southampton and Headingley which boast hotels on location.
Further, players and officials will be quarantined prior to the start of the series and once it wraps up, to mitigate against the risk of transmission.
The United Kingdom has been one of the hardest hit by the deadly COVID-19, recording 211 000 infections and over 31 000 deaths.
Root, whose England side surrendered the coveted Wisden Trophy last year after holding it for a decade, said reaching a decision to stage the series could be complicated as it would be up to CWI to agree to the conditions.
“We have just tried to present the likely environment to see if it’s a possibility for them‚” Root stressed. “There are so many moving parts in all this.”
Root’s opposite number, Jason Holder, said recently it was imperative that safety was not compromised for the sake of ensuring the series was played.
“This thing has been really, really serious as we all know and has claimed quite a few lives throughout the world and that’s the last thing any of us would really want,” the world’s number one Test all-rounder said.
“I think we’ve got to play the safety card first before we can even think about resuming our normal lives.”
CWI chief executive, Johnny Grave, said the two boards were still mulling over the situation.
“We are working closely with the ECB to understand their plans to play the tour behind closed doors in bio-secure venues,” he said earlier this week. (CMC)