Sat | Sep 19, 2020

A host of problems - Former Windies players doubtful of region’s ability to welcome cricketing nations in future

Published:Monday | August 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Windies captain Jason Holder (right) watches as England’s Ben Stokes (second left) fist-bumps Ollie Pope during the last day of their second cricket Test match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Monday, July 20.

Former Windies cricketers Nehemiah Perry and Jeffrey Dujon are doubtful that the Caribbean will be capable of hosting any nation for the foreseeable future after South Africa’s withdrawal from a potential tour.

Cricket South Africa director and former Test captain Graeme Smith confirmed the team’s unavailability on Saturday because of the players’ plans to compete in the rescheduled Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL council announced its plans yesterday to contest the 2020 season in the United Arab Emirates from September 19 to November 10, pending approval from the Indian government. The period was previously identified by Cricket West Indies as a possible window for a series to take place with South Africa.

Perry says that their withdrawal will be a major setback for the sport that is already experiencing decline in the region.

“Cricket already is on the down-low from even before COVID-19 in the Caribbean, especially Test cricket,” he said. “With this now, we further put some darkness on Test cricket.”

Windies captain Jason Holder recently called on England to return to the region for a series, not only to reciprocate the goodwill shown by Windies in adhering to COVID-19 protocols while in the country, but also to assist the regional cricket body financially. Holder said in an ESPNcricinfo report last Tuesday that the future of Test cricket was at risk for similar smaller nations if series were not held.

“If something doesn’t happen soon, we’ll see less international cricket being played by smaller countries because we simply can’t afford it,” Holder said. “We’ve gone from having four- [or] five-match series down to two or three. And it’s very difficult to host any more than that for us, particularly the Caribbean.”

But Perry says that it will be difficult for Cricket West Indies to financially execute a series in a biosecure environment similar to those in England.

“It’s a whole lot to prepare to host teams, and I don’t see the West Indies in that kind of position to put all of these things in place to host any teams soon, until maybe a possible vaccine comes up,” Perry said. “England could have done it because of the strength of their board financially. West Indies are not so fortunate, and I think that is one of the main reasons why it’s going to be difficult to host any Test nation at this time leading up to December [or] January. It’s going to be very tough.”

Dujon agrees, saying that the risks are greater than any potential reward.

“I don’t think we are capable of doing that,” he said. “I understand the financial concerns, but I think the health concerns, the consequences of something happening on a tour like that, are [big]. I’m not so sure it will do much for our cricket if something like that happens.

“I don’t think that we can create the type of environment that they (England) had,” Dujon said. “We have to create seriously good conditions before we can take on something like that.”