Coronavirus wrap: West Indies trio won’t tour England, police to ponder fixtures

Three West Indies players have decided against travelling to England for their Test series as Formula One looks to finalise a revamped calendar.

The West Indies will play a three-Test series in July and August which will go ahead behind closed doors at ‘biosecure’ venues because of coronavirus.

Batsmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer and fast bowling all-rounder Keemo Paul have been left out of a 25-man touring party.

A Cricket West Indies statement read: “Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all declined the invitation to travel to England for the tour and CWI fully respects their decision to choose to do so.

“As previously stated, CWI will not hold this decision against these players when considering future selection.”

England announced on Tuesday that, subject to Government clearance, the series will start at the Ageas Bowl on July 8 followed by two Tests at Emirates Old Trafford beginning on July 16 and July 24 respectively.

Like cricket, F1 is trying to get restarted and hopes to have a finalised 2020 calendar in place by the end of the month.

Chief executive Chase Carey said he would not set any hard deadlines with safety still the priority.

On Tuesday the sport published an eight-race European calendar which will see the delayed season start with a double-header in Austria on July 5 and 12 before a race in Hungary, two at Silverstone in August and further events in Spain, Belgium and Italy – all behind closed doors.

“We feel good about it,” Carey said on the F1 website. “We’re in uncharted waters. We certainly continue to have a lack of visibility beyond a fairly short timeframe…

“We’re not going to give a deadline right now. With the fluidity of the situation, a deadline would create pressures which may not be right and realistic for the situation so we’re thinking of goals.”

In football, police will look at the final proposed Premier League fixture list before recommending whether any games in London should be moved to neutral venues.

Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium
Tottenham are still due to host Arsenal when the Premier League resumes. (Zac Goodwin/PA)

None of the five matches which the UK’s football policing lead said local forces had requested be switched to neutral venues last week were in the capital, despite the city’s mayor Sadiq Khan expressing misgivings about staging matches there during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tottenham’s match against north London rivals Arsenal is one of the matches still to be played, as is Spurs against West Ham. The Hammers also have a home game against Chelsea at the London Stadium.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police read: “The MPS have been in regular contact with the NPCC football lead DCC Mark Roberts who is co-ordinating the policing response to the restart of any football matches across the UK.

“Whilst agreement has been reached as to when the season may recommence, the plans for this to happen are still being finalised.

“We remain in contact with all the relevant bodies and will make plans as necessary when we receive a final proposed schedule for games.”

Former Wolves head of sports science and conditioning Tony Daley also believes the Sky Bet Championship is returning too quickly for players to be ready.

West Bromwich Albion v Wigan Athletic – Sky Bet Championship – The Hawthorns
Sky Bet Championship players are running the risk of injury, says Tony Daley. (Martin Rickett/PA)

The EFL announced it is due to return on June 20, in a move which angered some clubs as not all were consulted.

Former England international Daley, who spent 10 years as Wolves’ fitness guru, said: “It’s definitely a week, minimum, too early to come back (to playing).

“Players will have been doing something to tick over but you can’t substitute football fitness, contact, accelerating and decelerating in two-and-a-half weeks.

“They will have been mentally switched off and to come back in two-and-a-half weeks, it’s a big ask. It can be done but I won’t be surprised if there’s a large increase in soft muscle injuries.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Premiership clubs and Sky Sports will offer fans ‘virtual season tickets’ to allow them to watch broadcasts of their team’s home games when top-flight Scottish football restarts in August.

The Scottish Professional Football League announced it had agreed terms with the broadcaster on a new package to screen 48 games next season, and had spread the cost of a rebate for fixtures not completed in the curtailed 2019-20 season across the term of a new five-year contract.

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