By Neto Baptiste
Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO, Johnny Grave, has hinted it is highly likely that fully vaccinated fans here will be allowed to enter venues for both the Four Day warm-up match at the Coolidge Cricket Ground and the first Test between England and the West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in March next year, as the two teams battle for the Sir Vivian Richards and Lord Ian Botham trophy.
The matches will form part of England’s tour of the Caribbean in January and March next year.
“I think there will be strict policies where it won’t just be fans who would need to be fully vaccinated. All players, support staff, cleaners, caterers, ground staff and anyone that’s in that stadium footprint would need to be vaccinated, and that’s what we think the protocols would be, and if that’s the case, then it would be brilliant for us because we expect and hope most people to be vaccinated by then, in which case everyone could enjoy cricket and it would be a welcomed returned to some form of normality for everyone,” he said.
“It’s clearly early days and we are still in discussions with the Ministry of Health and the government surrounding what the protocols will be, and as we’ve done all year, there is no pressure or coercion from us on the government. We will adhere to whatever the protocols are in place at the time,” he added.
According to a CWI release, England will arrive in the Caribbean to play the first-ever five-match T20I Series between the two teams. All five matches in Barbados will be played across a nine-day period from January 22 to 30, 2022, including two consecutive weekends of back-to-back T20I cricket.
Then, following the regional team’s white-ball tour of India in February next year, the West Indies will welcome England back to the Caribbean for a three-match Test Series to compete for the newly created Richards-Botham Trophy.
Grave said the tours could prove beneficial for the region as a whole.
“Clearly, if we get the numbers that have come in 2019 and previous years where up to almost 10,000 English cricket fans will descend to watch those matches, then with Barbados having three good weeks of cricket, two weeks of T20s where there’s five matches, and then that second Test, it’s conceivable that the economic impact would even surpass that figure. But at this stage, we’re hoping that English fans will travel, that fully vaccinated fans will be able to come and watch the games live, and if that’s the case, then it will be a massive boost not just to Cricket West Indies but to the entire region,” he said. The much-anticipated Test Series will start appropriately at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium (SVRS) in Antigua on March 8, 2022 before moving to the Kensington Oval in Barbados for the 2nd Test starting on March 16. The 3rd Test match will bowl off on March 24 on the “Spice Isle” of Grenada at the National Cricket Stadium.