Three-Test series to be played behind closed doors, with Edgbaston named as contingency venue and additional training base
England will play their three-Test series against West Indies in July behind closed doors at The Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford subject to UK Government clearance, the ECB has announced.
England will host Jason Holder’s men at The Ageas Bowl from July 8 before the series switches to Old Trafford for the final two games of the series, from July 16 and July 24 respectively, with the stadiums selected as bio-secure venues in large part due to their on-site hotels.
England were initially set to play West Indies in June but the coronavirus pandemic forced the series to be postponed and Cricket West Indies agreed “in principle” to the new schedule on Friday.
West Indies will arrive in the UK on June 9 and travel to Old Trafford for quarantining and training, with the Manchester venue being their base for a three-week period before they move to the Ageas Bowl for the first Test.
The ECB’s independent Host Venue Panel (HVP) also confirmed that Edgbaston has been elected as a contingency venue and will be used to stage additional training throughout July.
England vs West Indies schedule
- July 8 – first Test, Ageas Bowl
- July 16 – second Test, Old Trafford
- July 24 – third Test, Old Trafford
The games against West Indies are poised to kick off a summer England also hope will include Tests and T20Is against Pakistan, three ODIs against Ireland and six white-ball games against Australia.A decision on the other scheduled matches for England men as well as England Women – who had series planned against India and South Africa – will be made at a later date.
ECB Director of Events, Steve Elworthy said: “Our main objective is to deliver a safe environment for all stakeholders including players, match officials, operational staff, essential venue staff, broadcasters and media.
“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.
“To keep venues bio-secure, grounds will be split into an inner zone for players and officials and an outer zone for broadcasters, media and operational staff with no-one permitted to move between the two.
Players will live on-site during games and be tested regularly for coronavirus, with designated areas for isolation of anyone presenting symptoms.
Four venues submitted an interest in staging matches by the deadline of Monday May 11, with the final recommendations for the use of The Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford later ratified by the ECB Board.
On his recent return to one-to-one training, England Test captain Joe Root told Sky Sports News: “It was very different, very well done, very well organised and felt very safe so it’s a big positive moving forward.
“At the minute it’s one-on-one with individual coaches. As the weeks progress and we get more clearance from the Government to take things forward, we will then start to work in small bubbles with other players.
“I am very much looking forward to getting back around the lads even if it does mean having to follow some strict social-distancing rules.”