English cricket chiefs responded Wednesday (March 24) to the West Indies' decision to play in England last year at the height of the coronavirus pandemic by announcing an expanded 2022 tour of the Caribbean. In a joint statement, the two boards said a third Test had been added to a previously agreed two-match series, with a preceding T20I campaign increased to five internationals from the original three.
The West Indies played a key role in reviving the international game last year following a Covid-19 shutdown by touring England for cricket's inaugural 'bio-secure' series. Their women's team later followed suit to spare their England counterparts a home season without any international cricket. The men's series helped England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) avoid potentially crippling losses.
There has long been an acknowledgment that English cricket 'owes' the West Indies, one of the global game's financially poorer leading teams. Cricket West Indies estimate each Test is worth up to $25 million (£18 million) to a host island or territory, with T20 valued at almost $4 million apiece and the complete tour worth $100 million to the region as a whole.
Those forecasts would be reduced if travel restrictions remain in place and England fans cannot follow their team to the Caribbean. Even if there is no economic boost from visiting fans, CWI can still expect an increase in broadcast income. The T20s will take place between January 28 and February 5, with the Tests scheduled for March.
It is understood the T20s will not clash with England's 2021/22 Ashes tour, although dates for the five Tests in Australia have yet to be confirmed. Quarantine restrictions and a congested schedule may mean that, in practice, it is difficult for players involved in the Ashes to feature in the West Indies T20s as well. In a statement issued Wednesday, ECB chairman Ian Watmore said: "We hugely appreciated the support of Cricket West Indies, and all its men's and women's players, in helping us host a full season of international cricket in the summer of 2020.
"Following the conclusion of those tours to England, we have been in discussions with CWI to understand how we can best support them moving forward and one way was to extend our existing England men's tours to the Caribbean in 2022."
CWI president Ricky Skerritt, added: "This expansion of next year's England tour to the Caribbean is welcome news for West Indies Cricket and for the region's tourism economy. It has come about because of the special relationship that has been developed between our respective boards."
Venues for the matches are expected to be announced by the end of April.
2022 England tour of West Indies Schedule:
Jan 28: 1st T20I
Jan 30: 2nd T20I
Feb 2: 3rd T20I
Feb 4: 4th T20I
Feb 5: 5th T20I
Mar 1-4: Warm-up match
Mar 8-12: 1st Test
Mar 16-20: 2nd Test
Mar 24-28: 3rd Test