What next as West Indies arrive in England for three-Test series?
All we know so far about the stadiums to be used, players involved and those to opt out, coronavirus-prevention measures and more
Last Updated: 09/06/20 3:33pm
West Indies have arrived in England for their proposed three-Test series behind closed doors.
Jason Holder's side flew out from Antigua on Monday, on a chartered flight funded by the England and Wales Cricket Board, after their entire squad and coaching staff tested negative for COVID-19.
England vs West Indies schedule
July 8 - first Test, The Ageas Bowl
July 16 - second Test, Emirates Old Trafford
July 24 - third Test, Emirates Old Trafford
The games will be the first international competition to be played anywhere in the world since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
England and West Indies are scheduled to play at the 'bio-secure' venues of The Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford next month with the ECB revealing the planned fixture list last week.
The Ageas Bowl in Southampton will host the series opener from July 8, before the players switch to Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester for the final two fixtures, from July 16 and July 24 respectively.
West Indies, who landed in Manchester, will spend three weeks at Emirates Old Trafford quarantining and preparing for the series before heading to The Ageas Bowl for the first Test.
The squad and backroom staff will be tested again for coronavirus on Tuesday with the results expected on Thursday - anyone who tests positive would be required to self-isolate.
Who is in the West Indies squad?
West Indies have taken a 25-man party to England, with 14 official squad members plus 11 reserves in case of injury or illness.
Seamer Chemar Holder - no relation of Windies captain Jason - and batsman Nkrumah Bonner have received their maiden Test call-ups after strong domestic campaigns, while there are recalls for batsman Jermaine Blackwood and all-rounder Raymon Reifer.
Shai Hope is, of course, included - the Barbadian became the first man in history to score two centuries in the same first-class match at Emerald Headingley when West Indies won the Leeds Test against England in 2017.
West Indies Test squad for England series
Jason Holder (capt), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach
West Indies reserves for England tour
Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican
Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel is among the list of 11 reserve players as he steps up his comeback from ankle surgery in November.
The Trinidadian has not played a game since his short stint with Gloucestershire last September but West Indies chairman of selectors, Roger Harper, has suggested he could play a part in England.
"A fully fit and firing Shannon adds great potency to the bowling attack, so it is important to have him back at his best."
Who are West Indies missing?
Batsmen Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo and all-rounder Keemo Paul have opted out of the tour due to coronavirus fears but Cricket West Indies says that will not be held against them when it comes to future selection.
Speaking to Sky Sports last week, Cricket West Indies chief-executive Johnny Grave said: "We were very clear from when we started speaking to players that if anyone didn't want to tour for whatever reason we would fully respect their decision and it wouldn't be held against them.
"We really wanted to make sure that the players had all the information and all the facts so that they didn't regret any decision they made - whether to tour or whether to decline the invitation."
Grave also said the fact only three players decided against touring was down to the "level of detail" the ECB and Cricket West Indies have gone into to ease the minds of the Windies team.
"It's testament to the amount of information that we've provided the players, the level of detail that the ECB have gone into and the level of detail that our medical practitioners have gone through here in order to make the players feel very safe."
What next for West Indies and England?
Holder's side will quarantine, train and undergo further testing at Emirates Old Trafford over the next three weeks before moving to Southampton.
England's players have resumed one-to-one training and skipper Joe Root told Sky Sports News they are waiting on government clearance before they step up and do group work.
"It was very different, very well done, very well organised and felt very safe so it's a big positive moving forward," Root said after his initial training session, at Trent Bridge with former England coach Peter Moores.
"At the minute it's one-on-one with individual coaches. As the weeks progress and we get more clearance from the government to take things forward, we will then start to work in small bubbles with other players.
"I am very much looking forward to getting back around the lads even if it does mean having to follow some strict social-distancing rules."
Why Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford?
The stadiums were selected as 'bio-secure' venues due to their on-site hotels and coronavirus testing and screening provisions, as well as cricket facilities and ability to maintain social-distancing measures.
The grounds will be split into one zone for players and officials and another for broadcasters, media and operational staff with no one permitted to move between the two. Players will be tested regularly for coronavirus, with designated areas for isolation of anyone presenting symptoms.
Speaking to Sky Sports' The Cricket Show, the ECB's director of events, Steve Elworthy, explained The Ageas Bowl had been selected to open the series due to its adjacent full-sized practice pitch: "We wanted both teams to be able to practice and train and prepare for a Test match, and having two full grounds available to be able to train was key."
Former South Africa seamer Elworthy - who previously served as managing director of the 2019 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup - also explained why two venues had been picked to host the series rather than just one.
"If you were to hold your first two Test matches at the same venue, you could end up possibly winning a series in the same conditions in the same venue, back-to-back," he said.
"We felt that to win a series you should have to win it in two separate sets of conditions. We're also trying to reduce the amount of time stakeholders or groups of people are locked down in [one] venue for periods of time."
Four venues expressed interest in hosting internationals but The Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford were later ratified by the ECB Board - both grounds will receive an administration fee for staging matches, with additional costs met by the ECB. Edgbaston has been named as a contingency venue and will also stage additional training during July.
What about the playing conditions?
A number of interim measures have been brought in by the ICC owing to the pandemic, including the permission for like-for-like coronavirus substitutes for anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms - this rule only applies to Test matches and not ODIs and T20Is.
Players are also temporarily banned from applying saliva on the ball - umpires will show leniency to start with but any further infringement after two official warnings will result in five runs being awarded to the batting side. Players are still allowed to use sweat on the ball.
In addition, the requirement for non-neutral umpires has been shelved due to the current difficulties of international travel, with sides, as a result, receiving an additional DRS review per innings, taking the total up to three per innings in a Test match.
On coronavirus substitutes, Elworthy said: "That replacement would have to be a 'like for like' player. Our on-site COVID medical practitioner and Public Health England would be informed immediately and that player would then be put into isolation for a period of time, based on government guidance and the medical overlay.
"With the testing protocols of getting those players into that [bio-secure] bubble first, you would hope that wouldn't be a scenario we'd have to deal with. But clearly it is something we are planning for. If you are secure within the venue, and you don't break the confines of that venue, then your game should be able to go ahead with no problems at all."
Will Root captain England?
The only reason that is in any doubt is down to the fact Root's wife, Carrie, is due to give birth to their second child in the first week of July. It is unclear as yet how Root could move in and out of England's "bubble" but he says he will be at the birth regardless, so may be forced to miss a Test.
The 29-year-old would have no qualms handing over the reins to vice-captain Ben Stokes, insisting the all-rounder would do a "fantastic" job.
"One of his great qualities as vice-captain is the example he sets - the way he trains, how he wants the ball in difficult circumstances, the way he stands up in difficult scenarios with the bat," Root said of Stokes.
"He drags people with him, gets the best out of players around him and gives the whole team a lift. People will always follow him, look up to him and want to play for him whether he is captain or not.
"If Ben were to captain, I think he would be fantastic."
Who else will play for England?
England named 55-players in a back-to-training group but are yet to officially announce a Test squad.
Michael Atherton, though, expects selectors to prioritise Test cricket this summer, with the games part of the World Test Championship and this year's T20 World Cup in Australia potentially being postponed from its October and November slot due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There are 14 uncapped players in England's 55-man training party, including Essex batsman Dan Lawrence and Surrey spinner Amar Virdi, though they may have to wait for debuts if the hosts - currently fourth in the World Test Championship - operate at full strength in red-ball cricket.
Nasser Hussain, however, does expect some rotation among the seamers with three Tests in 21 days against West Indies and a series against Pakistan also pencilled in for later in the summer.
"The likes of Mark Wood and James Anderson will be rotated, to make sure they don't go from four months off to playing every single day. They need to be looked after whether in times of coronavirus or not," said Hussain.
What will England and West Indies be playing for?
Besides potentially crucial World Test Championship points - England are currently fourth in the table, behind India, Australia and New Zealand, while West Indies are eighth of the nine teams involved having yet to register a point - the sides will also compete for The Wisden Trophy.
West Indies hold the prize having beaten England 2-1 at home in early 2019, winning in Barbados and Antigua by 381 runs and 10 wickets respectively before the tourists earned a consolation 232-run victory in St Lucia.
England have not lost a series at home to West Indies since being thrashed 4-0 in 1988 - the 1991 and 1995 series both ended 2-2, while England have since reeled off six wins on the spin (2000, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2017).
Hope's heroics three years ago secured victory for West Indies in the second Test but the Caribbean outfit lost the series 2-1, with England thumping them by an innings and 209 runs in the day-night first Test at Edgbaston - West Indies losing 19 wickets on the third and ultimately final day - before securing a nine-wicket success in the final clash at Lord's.
What about the rest of the 2020 summer?
A decision on the planned three ODIs against Ireland, three Tests and three T20Is against Pakistan and six white-ball games against Australia will be made at a later date, as will calls on the fixtures for England Women, who had matches scheduled against India and South Africa.
There are also proposals to admit a small number of fans into games as long as they strictly adhere to social-distancing measures.
First off, though, it's England versus West Indies, which will be shown in full on Sky Sports should the series, as expected, go ahead.