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England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced the schedule of three Test matches against West Indies, subject to clearance from the UK government. As expected during this health crisis, all three matches will be played behind closed doors. Ageas Bowl, Southampton will host the opening Test from July 8 in a bio-secure environment and it would mark the beginning of a new era.
The second and third Test matches will be played at Old Trafford, Manchester. The second Test will begin from July 16 whereas the third and the final will kickstart from July 24. Meanwhile, Edgbaston has been picked as a contingency venue and it will serve the players for training purposes throughout the month of July.
ECB will have to make sure no medical risks are taken
The visitors will reach England on June 9 and then they will undergo a compulsory 14-day quarantine process. The Windies will stay at Old Trafford and they would train at the venue for three weeks.
“Our main objective is to deliver a safe environment for all stakeholders including players, match officials, operational staff, essential venue staff, broadcasters and media,” Steve Elworthy, ECB’s director of events, said. “We are in daily dialogue with Government and our medical team, who have been incredibly supportive during this period. These are our proposed dates and they remain subject to UK Government approval.
“We would like to thank Cricket West Indies for their co-operation and dedication in making this tour a reality, and we all look forward to the prospect of cricket returning in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, ECB has confirmed that it will release the schedule for other series of men and women teams at a later date.
On the other hand, the series against West Indies was to begin from June 5 but the coronavirus pandemic forced the ECB to rejig their plans. England also plans to host Pakistan for three Test matches in August.
This series will give an indication to other cricketing boards on how the playing situation can be handled in the Covid-19 era. Furthermore, the fans will not be able to see the live-action from the ground but they will welcome if they are able to catch the telecast from their TV sets after almost four months.