The Jason Holder-led West Indies side became the first international team to travel abroad after the Covid-19 pandemic had halted cricket for more than two months. The West Indian cricketers, who tested negative before boarding the aircraft, on Monday left from Antigua for the three-match Test series in England. The three-match Test series starting from July 8 between England and West Indies will also mark the return of international cricket.
Earlier in the day, two planes collected players from various islands in the West Indies and they joined a private charter which is due to arrive in Manchester on Tuesday morning.
West Indies Cricket said in a statement that on arrival at Old Trafford in Manchester, the entire touring party will be quarantined and tested again for COVID-19 as they begin the seven-week tour where they will live, train and play in a "bio-secure" environment.
"On arrival into Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, the whole touring party will be tested again for COVID-19 as they begin the seven week tour where they will live, train and play in a "bio-secure" environment, as part of the comprehensive medical and operational plans to ensure player and staff safety. The bio-secure protocols will restrict movement in and out of the venues, so a group of reserve players will travel to train and help prepare the Test squad and ensure replacements are available in case of any injury," the statement said.
There will be no spectators allowed at the three tests which are being played over just 21 days — starting July 8 in Southampton and at Old Trafford from July 16-20 and again from July 24-28.
The venues were chosen because they had hotels attached or nearby and could be turned into bio-secure environments.
The original tour was scheduled for May and June but was postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.
"This is a huge step forward in cricket and in sports in general as we travel over to England for this series. A lot has gone into the preparations for what will be a new phase in the game. I'm happy for the support and well-wishes we have been receiving from our loyal and dedicated fans once it was confirmed the tour would go-ahead. This has been a source of great inspiration," said West Indies captain Jason Holder.
West Indies Test squad: Jason Holder (captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer and Kemar Roach.
Reserve Players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua DaSilva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas and Jomel Warrican.