“COVID-19 is a reality some of us don’t seem to understand”

— says CWI President Ricky Skerrit

— players given “benefit of the doubt” regarding availability

By Brandon Corlette

The novel coronavirus continues to hit the globe since its deadly rise in 2020, and has recently hit some Caribbean cricketers, with Guyana’s Romario Shepherd being the Caribbean’s first active player to have returned a positive result for COVID-19, and Hayden Walsh Jr. being the next player to have tested positive, in Bangladesh.

Ricky Skerrit has said the weakened West Indies batting group gave of their best in Bangladesh

The Barbados Pride duo of Shai Hope and Kyle Hope were the other players who tested positive and were ruled out of the Regional Super50 Cup, while Guyana Jaguars’ opener Trevon Griffith has been the latest player from the Caribbean to have returned a positive COVID-19 test, and he also was ruled out of next month’s Regional Super50 tournament to be staged in Antigua.
In the most recent Mason and Guest radio programme, Cricket West Indies (CWI) President Ricky Skerrit said COVID-19 is a reality that some people don’t seem to understand.
“We have to deal with the reality that players are facing stressful decisions about their careers, whether they are participating in cricket under risky situations, even though CWI and other cricket boards are doing everything to minimise the risk,” Skerrit explained.

CWI President Ricky Skerrit

Since onset of the pandemic, West Indies have visited England, New Zealand, and now Bangladesh. Initially, only a few players had refused to tour, but in the most recent overseas tour, most of the players were reluctant to travel to Bangladesh.
The CWI boss has indicated that it is difficult for the Caribbean board to get all their ‘top’ players to play at the same time, and the inexperience was evident during the One Day International (ODI) series in Bangladesh.
“With this particular tour and the two tours before, which were held in COVID-19, is that you could not get all your best players on tour at the same time, and this trip to Bangladesh was (the) worst. We had more players than perhaps we expected pulling out,” Skerrit declared.
According to an earlier CWI release, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder, limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard and Test vice-captain Roston Chase were among ten players who pulled out of the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, citing COVID-19 concerns.
Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran were the other players who declined the opportunity to participate in that Bangladesh tour due to COVID-19-related concerns or personal fears.
Not since 2014 have the West Indies won an ODI series against Bangladesh. “We had a team that was significantly weakened in a situation where even our best teams have lost in Bangladesh over the last several years,” Skerrit explained.
“Since 2014, we have not won an ODI series against Bangladesh. Let’s look at the facts: We are going to play against Bangladesh, in a place where most West Indians don’t like playing in. We take not our strongest batting team, and the batting team fails,” the CWI boss said.
He opined that the players had given of their best, but it was not good enough.
Skerritt has also given the players the benefit of the doubt over their availability to play for the West Indies at this time.
“We respect the fact that individual experiences in a health-bubble environment and COVID-19 fears and concerns are also very personal to the players, who are being given the benefit of any doubt,” he explained.
West Indies will have a packed home season in 2021, with Sri Lanka expected to visit the Caribbean, while teams such as Australia and Pakistan may also visit the Caribbean as well.