Ashley Giles expects England vs West Indies to be delayed

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10 Apr 2020 | 08:17 AM
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AFP

Ashley Giles expects England vs West Indies to be delayed

England are meant to play a three-Test series against the West Indies in June, with the opening match at The Oval starting on June 4

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England cricket team chief Ashley Giles has forecast a significant delay to the home series against the West Indies in June should the coronavirus relent sufficiently to allow the three Tests to go ahead.

The county championship, comprising four-day matches, was due to start on Sunday (5th April) but English cricket is shut down until at least May 28, with the expectation of further postponements.

England are meant to play a three-Test series against the West Indies in June, with the opening match at The Oval starting on June 4.

But England team director Giles told reporters in a conference call on Thursday: "The deadline of May 28 still stands but it's looking less and less likely that we're going to be out there in June. 

"We have to look at alternatives."

Following the visit of the West Indies, England are meant to play home series against Pakistan, Australia and Ireland as well.

"We are looking at scenarios where we can push those matches back as far as possible without losing any cricket," said Giles.

"Whether eventually games start falling off the calendar right now we don't know."

"If we can't get it all, it's really important we work in partnership with all the other boards to fulfil those fixtures but with a priority on keeping people safe."

Meanwhile the former England spinner said an intra-squad match similar to the one Australia played before last year's Ashes could serve as a warm-up fixture for his side if the season can get underway.

With Britain currently in lockdown, players cannot go straight from their homes into the international arena.

"From a playing point of view certainly, I think we'll need to play a couple of warm-up games," Giles said.

"They could be behind closed doors, they could be among England players -- none of us really know until we get there."

Following last year's one-day World Cup in England, the Australians played a three-day 12-a-side match at Southampton as their sole warm-up fixture for the Ashes.

Australia coach Justin Langer then settled on his squad and saw the tourists hammer England in the first Test at Edgbaston by 251 runs, although the five-match series ended in a 2-2 draw.

England themselves benefitted from a similar fixture when their Twenty20 side lost a practice match to their own second string in Abu Dhabi in 2010.

As a result, batsmen Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter forced their way into the senior team that went on to win that's year's World Twenty20 in the Caribbean.

Giles, asked about an intra-squad match, replied: "If we had to, I think that would be a decent way around a problem if we weren't playing cricket more broadly. I think we could do that."

Giles added he was also open to the possibility of England's Test and one-day teams playing at the same time if that was the best way to fulfil fixtures in a shortened season.

"We have got enough depth where we can split our resources but we haven't got that far," he said.

Rob Andrew confident English cricket can weather virus storm

Sussex chief executive Rob Andrew believes English cricket is better placed to cope with the financial impact of the coronavirus than either his old sport of rugby union or football.

This week has seen England's Professional Cricketers' Association announce their members will take "maximum reductions" in their salaries during April and May.

The players have also agreed to waive £1 million ($1.25 million) in prize money as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cricket's wage bill is significantly lower than that of football with only a handful of England players earning anything like £1 million a year compared to the hundreds of thousands a week banked by Premier League stars.

"Yes, cricket has some challenges but you could argue it's got fewer than maybe football or rugby union," former England fly-half Andrew told reporters in a conference call on Thursday, "in those sports the cost bases are driven by TV money and they are driven predominantly in player wages."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have already distributed an initial £61 million ($76 million) aid package to the 18 first-class counties.

Meanwhile Sussex are one of several clubs taking advantage of the British government's furlough job-retention scheme, although they remain in talks with Australia batsman Travis Head, who had been lined up as their overseas player, Andrew, a former senior figure at England's Rugby Football Union, said: "The ECB, have reacted very quickly in this situation."

"Governing bodies often get a lot of stick, and I have personal experience of that in another sport, but the reaction across cricket has been fantastic."

"From what I've seen the ECB reaction is going to give cricket the best chance to survive, even in the worst-case scenario."

That worst-case scenario is a season without any cricket at all but Gloucestershire insisted Thursday they could still balance their books regardless.

"Our financial projections show that, even on the worst case scenario of no cricket at all this season, the club should be able to break even this year and be ready to face the future in a strong financial position when this crisis has passed," said a joint statement by Gloucestershire chairman John Hollingdale and chief executive Will Brown.

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