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West Indies cricketers arrive in Manchester wearing masks ahead of England clash as all players test negative

, West Indies cricketers arrive in Manchester wearing masks ahead of England clash as all players test negative

THE West Indies squad arrived in Manchester donning face masks ahead of the behind closed doors three-Test series.

The entire squad and coaching staff tested negative for the killer coronavirus before embarking out of Antigua.

The West Indian cricketers arrived at Manchester airport early on Tuesday morning after flying in from Antigua.
, West Indies cricketers arrive in Manchester wearing masks ahead of England clash as all players test negative
The squad will now quarantine and train at the Emirates Old Trafford for three weeks before heading to The Ageas Bowl
, West Indies cricketers arrive in Manchester wearing masks ahead of England clash as all players test negative
Three West Indies players are refusing to tour England this summer because of fears for their health

The team travelled to Manchester by charter flight and are the first sports team to arrive from overseas since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

They will go straight to Old Trafford for two weeks’ quarantine in the on-site hotel, during which they will be permitted to train.

Players and support staff will have another Covid-19 test on  arrival in the UK and were told to social-distance on the flight.

The aces will work individually and in small groups to begin with, then play three-day and four-day matches among themselves after the 14-day quarantine.

Flights from various Caribbean countries to the Antigua hub as well as the charter to the UK have been paid for by the ECB at a cost of around £450,000.

Three West Indies stars refused to join the tour over fears for their health.

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Batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer and all-rounder Keemo Paul opted out of the Windies’ 14-man squad.

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 are relief and gratitude that they have decided to come at all.

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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.

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.”

England legend Kevin Pietersen believes Jos Buttler — and not official vice-captain Ben Stokes — should lead England if Joe Root misses the First Test.

The former skipper and top batsman Pietersen says star all-rounder Stokes must be allowed to concentrate on bringing his brand of magic with bat and ball.

Root could be forced to hand over the reins for the First Test in Southampton on July 8 because he is attending the birth of his and wife Carrie’s second child early next month.

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, West Indies cricketers arrive in Manchester wearing masks ahead of England clash as all players test negative

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