England confirm West Indies Test series in July

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AFP/File / Randy Brooks England Test captain Joe Root (left) and West Indies skipper Jason Holder

England will play three Tests at home against the West Indies in July, subject to government clearance, the England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Tuesday.

The first Test will take place at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl from July 8-12, with the second and third Tests at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester on July 16-20 and July 24-28.

The series had been due to take place in June but was delayed because of the coronavirus.

The West Indies, who agreed in principle to play last week, are due to arrive in England on June 9 and will be based at Old Trafford for a three-week period of quarantine and training before travelling down to Southampton.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) director of events Steve Elworthy said: “Our main objective is to deliver a safe environment for all stakeholders including players, match officials, operational staff, essential venue staff, broadcasters and media.

“We are in daily dialogue with government and our medical team, who have been incredibly supportive during this period. These are our proposed dates and they remain subject to UK government approval.”

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The series should have started at the Oval in London on Thursday, with the second and third Tests originally scheduled for Edgbaston and Lord’s.

The ECB decided to move the matches to the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford for reasons of bio-security. Both grounds have on-site hotels where players and officials can be closely monitored for signs of COVID-19.

Edgbaston, in Birmingham, will remain a “contingency venue” and will be used to stage additional training throughout July.

Last week the ECB announced it was pushing back the start of its domestic season until August at the earliest.

But going ahead with international fixtures is seen as vital to avoiding a financial black hole, with the ECB accounts for the year 2019/20 published Tuesday estimating the deficit to the board from a loss of matchday revenues, broadcast and sponsorship income this season at £252 million ($316 million).

That followed a previous warning by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison that a wiped out season could cost the English game £380 million.

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Tuesday saw the ECB report a record turnover of £228 million — an increase of £56 million.

In March, the ECB launched a £61 million aid package to help English cricket cope with the financial fallout from the pandemic.

Pakistan are due to arrive in England for a three-Test series later in the season, with England also scheduled to play limited-overs matches against Australia and Ireland.

The ECB said a decision on those matches and the women’s internationals against India and South Africa would be made at a later date.

Ian Watmore’s appointment as ECB chairman was ratified on Tuesday.

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