By Neto Baptiste
An upsurge in coronavirus cases here in Antigua and Barbuda and across the Caribbean could impact a decision as to whether or not fans will be allowed to enter venues during match days for the 2021 Regional Super50 Cup scheduled to start on February 7.
This is according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Johnny Grave, who said that although the regional governing body would prefer to have fans at the venues, the final word must come from the proper health authorities as the safety of both players and fans must remain a priority.
“Obviously, we are in an extremely dynamic situation where we’ve seen recent spikes elsewhere in the Caribbean and across the world, so we are taking a very cautious approach with the government. Obviously, we would like for spectators to come into the grounds if possible but we will only do so if it’s safe and we’ve got full approval for the protocols with the Ministry of Health, so it’s something that we are monitoring,” he said.
“We’ve got a couple of weeks before the first games on the 7th of February, and at some point between now and then, we’ll even have to make the announcement that the games will be behind closed doors or hopefully, at some point during that tournament or the Sri Lanka series, we’ll be able to welcome cricket fans into the stadium in a very managed and controlled way,” he added.
The CG Insurance Super50 Cup bowls off on Sunday, February 7 with the Leeward Islands Hurricanes taking on the Windward Islands Volcanoes here at the Coolidge Cricket Ground.
Grave explained the protocols that franchises must follow ahead of the tournament’s start.
“Seven days out before travel the players are tested and go into self-isolation and then they are tested 72 hours before they depart. Once they land in the host country they are tested again and go into room isolation for three days. If that day three test is returned negative they can start managed training and by that I mean they are still restricted in terms of their movement to just the accommodation and the training ground so it provides that 14-day window because we test then seven days before and it’s really only from day seven that they can start to interact outside of their own team,” he said.
The CEO underscored the efforts by the Antigua and Barbuda government in ensuring that cricket, on both the regional and international level, returns to the Caribbean.
“I think the government has been massively supportive in us being able to host. We knew it was highly ambitious being able to bring in almost 150 people into Antigua for a month of cricket but we were really confident we’ve got robust plans in place to ensure they are safe and that the communities and residents of Antigua and Barbuda are safe and hopefully cricket can be part of the economic recovery of not just Antigua and Barbuda but the whole Caribbean,” Grave said.
The tournament will come to an exciting climax when the new champions are crowned on Saturday, February 27.
The 2019-20 champions, West Indies Emerging Players, are unable to defend their 2019 trophy due to Covid-19 constraints, however, several of those players now feature in the squads of the six competing franchise teams, one of which will emerge as the CG Insurance Super50 Cup champions.
Each team will play each other on a round-robin basis with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals and the opportunity to reach the grand final.