The wait for international cricket’s return is almost over after a hiatus of around four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, as England host West Indies in a three-match Test series starting on 8 July. The Wisden Trophy series, as it is known, will be played inside a bio-secure bubble amid new COVID-19 guidelines set-up by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Saturday announced a 13-man squad for the first Test, along with nine reserve players. With captain Joe Root set to be absent for the opener due to the birth of his second child, Ben Stokes will lead the team for the first time. On the other hand, Jason Holder resumes his captaincy duties for the Windies as they look to defend the Wisden Trophy. Shannon Gabriel, who was earlier named in the reserve squad, has found himself in the 15-member main squad, while newcomers Nkrumah Bonner and Chemar Holder have also been named.
The Windies had clinched the series 2-1 when the two teams met in the Caribbean in early 2019.
The visitors arrived in England on 9 June, and spent the first three weeks in mandatory quarantine. The Windies took part in a couple of intra-squad practice matches in June, while the English players followed suit with a similar intra-squad practice game.
Both the teams will don a 'Black Lives Matter' logo on their jerseys to show support in their protest against racism. All matches will be held behind closed doors.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of the series, from the new COVID-19 protocols to the full squads:
New COVID-19 protocols
On 9 June, the ICC Chief Executives Committee (CEC) approved a new set of guidelines recommended by the world cricketing body’s Cricket Committee chaired by former cricketer Anil Kumble.
Ban on saliva usage: In one of the major changes to cricket, bowlers will be banned from using saliva to shine the ball. A team can be given two warnings for this, but a repeated usage of saliva thereafter will lead to a five-run penalty to the batting team.
COVID-19 player replacements: In a rule exclusively for Tests, teams will be permitted to replace players who show coronavirus symptoms. If this need arises, the match referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement.
Non-neutral umpires: Because of the logistical challenges with international travel, the ICC will temporarily do away with neutral umpires. This will enable ICC to appoint locally-based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials.
Additional DRS reviews: Bearing in mind there may be less experienced umpires at times, the CEC also confirmed the usage of an extra unsuccessful DRS review for each team in each innings during a match. As a result, this will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals for teams to two in limited-overs and three in Tests.
Allowance of additional logo: The CEC also approved a relaxation of rules on apparel logos for the next 12 months. “A logo, not exceeding 32 square inches in size, may be placed on the chest of the Test match shirt and sweater in addition to the three other logos allowed as per regulations. As of now, logos on chests are only allowed in ODIs and T20Is,” said the ICC in a statement.
England have announced the squad only for the first Test, while the visitors have announced the squad for all three Tests. Both squads contain a list of reserve players.
England (First Test): Ben Stokes (Captain), James Anderson, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, , Jos Buttler, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
Reserves: James Bracey, Sam Curran,Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Ollie Robinson, Olly Stone, Ben Foakes.
West Indies Test 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 and Kemar Roach.
Reserve Players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua DaSilva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas and Jomel Warrican.
8-12 July: England vs West Indies, first Test at the Rose Bowl, Southampton.
16-20 July: England vs West Indies, second Test at Old Trafford, Manchester
24-28 July: England vs West Indies, third Test at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Where to watch the matches?
All matches start at 3.30 pm IST and can be seen live on Sony Six and the Sony Liv app.
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