CWI domestic schedule in ‘jeopardy’ as COVID-19 hits Region
CWI chief executive, Johnny Grave.
CWI chief executive, Johnny Grave.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados,  (CMC) – Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) domestic itinerary has been put in “jeopardy” following the first reported cases of the coronavirus in the Caribbean, and chief executive Johnny Grave said Thursday a decision would be taken shortly on whether to suspend the schedule altogether.

Two cases of the virus – known as COVID-19 – have already been reported in Jamaica while Trinidad, Guyana and St Vincent have all reported a single case so far.

But with health authorities anticipating a rise in reported cases and other Caribbean territories on high alert, Grave said it was critical CWI acted swiftly to mitigate against any potential risk to players and officials, and in the best interest of public safety.

“Our medical panel is meeting as we speak so they can provide a recommendation on our upcoming tours and series,” Grave told CMC Sports in a telephone interview Thursday.

“And it wouldn’t be a surprise to me [if] there is a postponement or cancellation of our events. In the Caribbean now we’ve got cases reported in Guyana, St Vincent and Jamaica.

“I’m awaiting news of their recommendations and we’ll take those recommendations immediately to the Board of Directors. We’re likely to host a conference call and ask for support of those recommendations.”

Significantly, two matches of the ongoing eighth round of the Regional Four-Day Championship are being staged in affected territories, with Guyana Jaguars hosting Barbados Pride in Georgetown and Trinidad and Tobago Red Force hosting Windward Islands in Tarouba, south Trinidad.

And though the round bowled off on Thursday with a match also being played between Leeward Islands Hurricanes and Jamaica Scorpions in Antigua, Grave admitted that uncertainty remained over the fixtures, depending on the recommendations put forward.

“The current round of four-day games has started [on Thursday] but I couldn’t really say with any confidence whether those games will be completed because obviously the situation is changing so quickly and we’re monitoring it very, very closely as you would expect,” the Englishman stressed.

Several other upcoming domestic tournaments face the possibility of cancellation. The Women’s Super50 Cup is set to run from March 30 to April 11 in Guyana, the boys Under-15 Championship is carded for Antigua from April 11-19 while the girls Under-19 Championship is scheduled for Trinidad from April 7-11.

Further, two rounds of the Regional Four-Day Championship still remain, with some matches scheduled for Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica.

Pointing to the entire suite of tournaments, Grave said all could be in danger once instability remained because of the coronavirus.

“As for the next two rounds of the [four-day] championship which are the final ones, the women’s Regional Super50 Cup which takes place end of the month in Guyana, our Under-15 Boys regional tournament due to take place in early April here in Antigua and our inaugural Under-19 girls tournament taking place in Trinidad and Tobago in early April, it’s fair to say they are all in jeopardy as to whether they take place or not.”

There are also several international series scheduled, with West Indies Women hosting South Africa Women from May 30 to June 10 in Jamaica and Trinidad, and West Indies A taking on South Africa A from June 10 to July 9 in Antigua and Barbados.

New Zealand and South Africa’s men’s senior teams are also expected to tour the Caribbean in July and August.

Already, the coronavirus has infected over 125 500 people worldwide and resulted in 4600 deaths.

It has forced the suspension of the National Basketball League (NBA) and other sporting events in the United States where nearly 40 deaths have been reported.

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