West Indies have followed England with a return to training before the expected sign-off on Thursday for their three-Test tour.
A Cricket West Indies board meeting is expected to give the green light for a trip that brings 25 players and a coaching setup together in Antigua and, once individual coronavirus test results have been returned from a private laboratory in Florida, departs for the UK on 8 June.
After arrival the seven-week tour will begin with a fortnight of quarantine for the squad at the Hilton at Old Trafford, during which time a 15-man squad and 10 reserves are expected to be able to work towards the first Test at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl – another ground with a hotel – on 8 July.
But like England, whose 18 red-ball bowlers returned to individual training last week before a wider international training group are named on Friday, West Indies’ preparation for their defence of the Wisden Trophy has already begun.
Seven Barbados cricketers – the captain, Jason Holder, Shane Dowrich, Shamarh Brooks, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Raymon Reifer – trained in two separate groups at the Kensington Oval on Monday, with a further six also using the facilities in the lead up to their departure.
Players in seven other territories are also due to begin in small groups this week, with Johnny Grave, the CWI chief executive, saying: “We are in the final stages of discussions with the ECB and we expect to hear from them shortly once their biosecure plans have UK government and ECB board support.”
The series, which will move back to Old Trafford for the second and third Tests starting on 16 and 24 July respectively, will see players isolated from the public, restricted to zones on site and subject to a regular testing routine.
While it published guidelines for the sport’s resumption last week, the International Cricket Council is yet to draw up protocols in the event of a player testing positive for Covid-19 during a match, with the subject of possible substitutes – akin to those introduced for concussion last year – still to be debated by the cricket committee.