Depleted by stars refusing to tour during the coronavirus pandemic, West Indies players will face multiple Covid-19 tests in Bangladesh before they even get close to a five-day match against their hosts.
The Caribbean stars have been put on edge by a trip to South Asia and captain Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo will be among a host of players missing when the squad arrives on Sunday.
Apart from them, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran declined to travel because of coronavirus fears while and all-rounder Romario Shepherd failed a coronavirus test just before the team’s departure meaning uncapped Keon Harding had to be called up at the last minute.
The tourists will go straight into a seven-day quarantine bubble to prepare for the three one-day internationals and two Tests against Bangladesh who are already in their own bubble.
There has been no international cricket in Bangladesh since March and the cricket board is taking no chances.
“We will do everything that is needed to keep the series risk free,” BCB chief executive officer Nizamuddin Chowdhury told AFP. The two countries agreed on health protocols in December.
“They will be tested immediately after arrival and then again after three days and then after travelling to Chittagong. They will be tested in multiple times in different layers and if a player develops any symptom he will be isolated immediately,” he added.
The first three days of their quarantine will be in isolation in a hotel. The players will have to pass a test to be allowed together after that. Their first warmup match is on January 18.
Bangladesh is providing some net bowlers and even they will be in their own separate bubble that will also be used to keep ground staff and drivers away from risky contacts.
Bangladesh could sense an upset victory against such weakened opponents, but they are still cautious.
“I think this West Indies team is still a very good side,” said former skipper and current selector Habibul Bashar.
“Who we are playing against, who is coming, that is not important. What is important is how we play,” he added. “It’s going to be an interesting series for both teams.”
After their warmup game against a local side, West Indies take on Bangladesh in two ODIs in Dhaka on January 20 and 22 with the final one-day game in Chittagong on January 25.
The first Test starts February 3 in Dhaka, with the second getting underway on February 11.
All the matches will be played in empty stadiums.
Bangladesh has recorded more than 500,000 pandemic cases but its fatality rate has been one of the world’s lowest.