The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the West Indies camp on the eve of their departure to Bangladesh with Guyanese fast-bowling all-rounder Romario Shepherd ruled out and he was tested positive. He was selected as part of the One Day International (ODI) team. Barbadian pacer Keon Harding, who is yet to make his West Indies debut, will replace Shepherd in the squad.
Shepherd returned a positive COVID-19 test in his Guyana hometown, according to a Cricket West Indies (CWI) media release issued on Thursday.
In accordance with the established government stipulations, Shepherd will remain in Guyana where he is undergoing a period of isolation. Cricket West Indies (CWI) started the first of a series of COVID-19 tests on all members of the Bangladesh touring party on January 2 and following receipt of the results, the board confirmed that all other members of the touring party returned negative results. All members of the touring party took their second and final pre-travel COVID-19 test yesterday.
This will be the West Indies' final away tour obligation under the ICC's Future Tours Programme. However, a packed home season which is on the horizon may present a logistical nightmare for CWI. Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan and Australia are expected to come to the Caribbean this year.
CWI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Johnny Grave has been in contact with the various stakeholders involved in this tedious process. He told Guardian Media Sports on Thursday, “We’ve been in talks again this morning (yesterday) with Sri Lanka trying to make sure that their tour can take place safely in the Caribbean and we continue to work very closely with Sri Lanka and the Ministries of Health in the respective countries in which we ultimately plan to host them but we have to accept that we may need to put some last-minute contingencies in place if the situation from a COVID-19 perspective changes.”
To date, Bangladesh, a population of 161 million people, has 519,000 cases with 7,687 deaths.
However, with every Caribbean country having different COVID-19 rules, each tour may be limited to one to two countries as opposed to being spread out across the region. Grave assured that the board still wanted to hold to its ethos of being equitable in the distribution of cricket around the region.
Grave, the former commercial director of the Professional Cricketers' Association in England explained, “One of the benefits is we’ve got so much cricket in the next 10 months that we’ve really got the opportunity to still spread it out across those 10 international venues. The reality is, though, I think tours will involve less movement and, therefore, less host countries so we’re only expecting two host countries for Sri Lanka and that will follow through the summer.”
Grave, who has been in the job since 2017, also revealed that the West Indies women’s team is gathering in Antigua this weekend for their first high-performance training camp under new head coach Courtney Walsh. Guardian Media Sports understands that among the players are Karishma Ramharack, Anisa Mohammed, left-arm-spinner Steffie Soogrim, Britney Cooper and Reniece Boyce.
West Indies ODI Squad
Jason Mohammed (captain), Sunil Ambris (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding, Jahmar Hamilton, Chemar Holder, Akeal Hosein
Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Andre McCarthy, Kjorn Ottley, Rovman Powell, Raymon Reifer and Hayden Walsh jr.
West Indies Test Squad
Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kavem Hodge, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Shayne Moseley, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Raymon Reifer and Jomel Warrican.
Full Tour Schedule
January 10: West Indies arrive
January 18: One-day warm-up match, BKSP, Savar
January 20 1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
January 22: 2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
January 25: 3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram
January 28-31: Four-day warm-up, M.A. Aziz Stadium, Chattogram
February 3-7: 1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram
February 11-15: 2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka