England v West Indies: Tourists arrive for historic Test series – BBC Sport

West Indies hold the Wisden Trophy after beating England 2-1 in the most recent series in the Caribbean

West Indies have arrived in Manchester to begin their historic Test tour of England.

They are the first international sports team to arrive in the UK since the coronavirus lockdown started in March.

The three-Test series, originally due to begin on 4 June, starts on 8 July at bio-secure venues without spectators.

All 39 members of the touring party, including 25 players, tested negative for Covid-19 before taking a charter flight from Antigua to Manchester.

They will be tested again as they enter quarantine at Emirates Old Trafford, where they will spend three weeks preparing before heading to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton for the first Test.

The second and third matches will take place at Old Trafford. Both venues have hotels on site.

“This is a huge step forward in cricket and in sports in general,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder.

“A lot has gone into the preparations for what will be a new phase in the game.”

The first Test will be the first international cricket played since Australia beat New Zealand behind closed doors in a one-day international at Sydney’s SCG on 13 March.

West Indies players ‘champing at the bit’

West Indies batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo and all-rounder Keemo Paul opted out of the tour because of coronavirus concerns.

The number of coronavirus deaths and confirmed cases is far higher in the UK than the Caribbean.

West Indies limited-overs all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, who will be part of the BBC Test Match Special commentary team, said the statistics caused “some scepticism” about the tour among some players.

“Ultimately, everybody has been champing at the bit not only to practise, but play,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Tuffers & Vaughan show.

“It was more a case of we want to play. However, we want to be sure of the health situation and, once we’re sure of that, we’re happy to get on the plane.”

West Indies squad: Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.

Reserve players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.

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