THREE West Indies players are refusing to tour England this summer because of fears for their health.
Batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer and all-rounder Keemo Paul opted out of the Windies’ 14-man squad announced today.
But Caribbean cricket chiefs insist they “respect” the trio’s decision and no action will be taken against them.
Even England Test captain Joe Root admitted on Tuesday that it must be “extremely scary” for West Indies players to tour here with the Covid-19 death toll still growing.
Root said: “It’s been a difficult time for everyone around the world and they are helping the game massively.
“Safety is everything and the work the ECB has done to make the bubble at the grounds as safe as possible is incredible.
“Still, it must be extremely scary and I think the whole cricketing world will be grateful to see some cricket again.”
Although the ECB would have liked a full-strength Windies squad, the primary emotions will be relief and gratitude they are coming at all.
And, do not forget, there have been times when England players have refused to tour due to safety concerns.
Captain Eoin Morgan and batsman Alex Hales did not travel to Bangladesh for three one-day internationals in 2016 and bowlers Robert Croft and Andy Caddick refused to tour India after the 9-11 terrorist attack in 2001.
The Windies have chosen 14 players and 11 reserves, allowing an intra-squad game as preparation for the first of three Test matches at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl on July 8.
The team will be tested for Covid-19 this week and arrive in Manchester by charter flight on June 9.
They will go straight to Old Trafford for two weeks’ quarantine in the on-site hotel, during which they will be permitted to train.
A Cricket West Indies statement said: “The squad will live, train and play in a bio-secure environment during the seven weeks of the tour to ensure safety.
“The bio-secure protocols will restrict movement in and out of the venues, so the selection panel has named a list of reserve players who will help prepare the Test squad and ensure replacements are available.
“Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all declined the invitation to travel and CWI will not hold this decision against these players when considering future selection.”
The squad includes two uncapped Test players in middle-order batsman Nkrumah Bonner and fast bowler Chemar Holder.
Chief selector Roger Harper added: “The new cricketing environment will take some getting used to. But working together for four weeks before the First Test will give the squad the opportunity to get acclimatised,
“More than half the squad were involved in the victorious Test series against England in the Caribbean last year so they will bring that knowledge and belief with them.”