England management have said that Jofra Archer will join the team’s behind-closed-doors training camp on Thursday after a member of his household felt unwell over the weekend.
“Archer, and members of his household, have tested negative for Covid-19. He will have a second test Wednesday, and if he tests negative, he will join up with the training group on Thursday,” the board said in a statement.
The rest of the group and the England management team arrived at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton on Tuesday afternoon to start their preparation ahead of the Test series.
England managing director Ashley Giles expects the upcoming series against the West Indies to be as “intense” as any other, for all the restricted preparation.
As a result of the coronavirus, England are set to have just one, three-day intra-squad warm-up match at Southampton ahead of the first behind closed doors Test there starting on July 8.
But former Test left-arm spinner Giles, while accepting the lack of any spectators would be “challenging” for players on both sides, said Tuesday: “I’m sure that when someone is trying to knock your head off at 85-90 mph, you’ll find a way to get your intensity up pretty quickly from experience.”
England’s hopes of doing just that will be boosted hugely if express fast bowler Archer is in their squad. For the time being, they were without the Barbados-born quick as the squad went into a bio-secure training ‘bubble’ at Southampton on Tuesday.
Meanwhile “intensity” was also the theme as the West Indies ramped up their preparations on by starting a three-day intra-squad warm-up match in Manchester on Tuesday.
Kraigg Brathwaite, taking charge of one side while West Indies captain Jason Holder, skippered the other, top-scored with 84 as his team were dismissed for 275.
Brathwaite was facing several frontline Windies’ quicks in Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, with fellow senior batsman Shai Hope making 83.
“The intensity was there from ball one,” Brathwaite told Britain’s Press Association after stumps.
“Those guys we faced are quality, so it was very good practice for batters and bowlers.”
Gabriel, trying to regain full fitness after left ankle surgery, took three wickets for 32 runs but his haul did not include Brathwaite.
Gabriel, however, was so dismayed when Brathwaite was not given out caught behind off his bowling, he said: “Jesus Christ boy, you are dishonest!”
His words echoed round the empty stands but were said with an accompanying grin and Brathwaite insisted: “It was all good fun, man...Shannon is a joyful fellow.”
The England-West Indies Tests are set to mark international cricket’s return from lockdown.
England then plan to play Test and Twenty20 matches against Pakistan – although a shadow has been cast over those fixtures by 10 Pakistan players having so far failed virus tests.
Fifty-over world champions England are also meant to play white-ball matches against Ireland and Australia, with Giles confident their oldest rivals would arrive in September.
“They’ve been one of our strongest partners for years, Australia,” he said. “It would be great to have them here.
“Are we confident? Yes, quietly confident, but there’s a lot of water to pass under the bridge yet,” he added.
(With AFP inputs)
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