Three West Indies players — Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul — on Wednesday refused to tour England for next month’s proposed three-Test series, which will be conducted in a bio-secure environment to combat the COVID-19 threat. The three-Test series, originally due to begin on June 4, starts on July 8 at bio-secure venues without spectators.Also Read - ENG vs IND 2021: Ajinkya Rahane Names Bowler Who Can Fill-up For Hardik Pandya's Absence, Respects Ben Stokes Decision to Take a Break
Cricket West Indies (CWI) announced a 14-man squad for the series, which is expected to mark the resumption of international cricket if it gets the final approval from the UK government. Nkrumah Bonner and Chemar Holder, both uncapped at Test level, are part of the West Indies squad, which is expected to land in England on June 9. Also Read - IPL 2021 | England Players to Get Green-Light For Participation as Bangladesh Series Postponed: Reports
“Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all declined the invitation to travel to England for the tour and CWI fully respects their decision to choose to do so,” Cricket West Indies said in a statement. Also Read - Shane Warne in Self-Isolation After Testing Positive For COVID-19: Report
“As previously stated, CWI will not hold this decision against these players when considering future selection,” it added.
The specific reasons for their withdrawal were not given by CWI. The West Indies squad will live, train and play in a “bio-secure” environment during the seven weeks of the tour, as part of the “comprehensive” medical and operations plans to ensure player and staff safety.
“The bio-secure protocols will restrict movement in and out of the venues, so the selection panel has also named a list of reserve players who will travel to train and help prepare the Test squad and ensure replacements are available in case of any injury,” said CWI.
The touring party, which will be tested for COVID-19 this week, is scheduled to fly to England on a chartered flight on June 8.
The series starting July 8 will be held at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl and Lancashire’s Old Trafford as both these venues have on-site hotels.
The first Test will be held from July 8-12 while the remaining two at Old Trafford (July 16-20 and July 24-28).
The two newcomers to the Test squad are middle-order batsman Nkrumah Bonner and fast bowler Chemar Holder.
The 22-year-old Holder, who is not related to West Indies captain Jason Holder, was the leading fast bowler in the national championship with 36 wickets in eight matches at 18.91 each, and was part of the ICC Under-19 World Cup-winning side in 2016.
Bonner, 31, is in line to make his Test debut after being one of the leading batsmen in the 2020 West Indies Championship with 523 runs in seven matches at an average of 58.11.
He has previously represented the West Indies in two T20 Internationals back in 2011 and 2012.
“The new cricketing environment will take some getting used to. However, being in England and working together for four weeks before the first Test will give the squad the opportunity to get acclimatized and hopefully, mentally and technically adjusted to the demands of the new environment,” said lead selector Roger Harper.
“Playing in July could be a blessing as the weather is likely to be warmer which will allow the squad more of an opportunity to play its best cricket.”
Harper is confident that his team will retain the Wisden Trophy.
“More than half of the squad were involved in the victorious Test series against England in the Caribbean last year so they will bring that experience, that knowledge and belief with them and marry it to the enthusiasm and vitality of the newcomers.
“I expect that the bowling unit will once again provide a serious challenge for England and our batting will have to deliver…the West Indies has a good chance of retaining the Wisden Trophy. We will have to bat consistently well to do so,” Harper said.
Jason Holder (C), Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Shane Dowrich, Roston Chase, Shemarh Brooks, Rahkeem Cornwall, Nkrumah Bonner, Alzarri Joseph, Chemar Holder, John Campbell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach, Jermaine Blackwood.
Reserves: Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.