FORMER West Indies and TT manager Omar Khan believes the forthcoming tour of England is an opportunity for West Indies players to earn more respect and admiration from regional fans, as the Test series would not be played under normal circumstances.
The three-match Test series, originally scheduled to bowl off on June 4, has been postponed because of the covid19 pandemic. Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are targeting a July 8 start instead. England has been one of the hardest hit countries by the virus.
The boards are deliberating several scenarios to ensure the tour comes off successfully. The West Indies players are expected to be put in quarantine for two weeks on arrival in England and will not play any warm-up matches due to the virus. Instead, a squad of 25 is expected to travel to England which would allow West Indies to play warm-up matches among themselves.
When the series bowls off, West Indians will not be able to cheer on their cricketers at the venues as the matches will be played without fans.
Khan said if the tour is held without any hiccups it will put a smile on faces in these trying times. “Definitely it will be a motivation (for the people)…something that will lift the spirits of the Caribbean cricket fans and the players.”
The former West Indies manager said proper guidelines must be put in place for the tour. “The most important thing is setting the terms and conditions, guidelines and operating procedures which the players and everybody got to buy into, in terms of being committed to a tour of this nature because at the end of the day it is not a normal tour.
“It is a tour under special conditions and it will require a lot of discipline by the players and all concerned in terms of understanding what is required to make the tour safe and successful.”
Khan said CWI must ensure the players sign an agreement to ensure the players and the board are on the same page.
Khan says a tour of this nature will lead to fans developing more respect for the cricketers. “This is a great opportunity for Cricket West Indies to bring back the honour and the pride and the passion of what it means to represent West Indies and the Caribbean. In this particular instance it’s lifting the spirit of the people again, bringing back unity among the people and getting people to understand our players are making a great sacrifice to go out there and play the game so that we could watch some cricket live on TV…West Indies-England is always a highly contested series and a highly anticipated series.”
Khan said if West Indies tour England during these uncertain times the relationship between CWI and ECB will grow.
“The long term (relationship will improve), we will have the opportunity to tell England, ‘We supported you all when you wanted us to tour now'.”
Khan said when England tours the West Indies in the future, the ECB and the English fans will remember the sacrifice the West Indies players and CWI made which will benefit West Indies cricket. The Barmy Army, an English group of cricket fans, may travel to the Caribbean with larger numbers in years to come which will help West Indies cricket financially, said Khan.