West Indies eager to play in front of crowds again

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - West Indies all-rounder Rovman Powell is counting down the days until the team’s two-week isolation comes to an end and is excited about playing in front of fans for the first time in months when face New Zealand in the opening Twenty20 match.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - England vs West Indies - Fifth One Day International - The Rose Bowl, Southampton, Britain - September 29, 2017 West Indies' Rovman Powell reacts after he was bowled by England's Liam Plunkett Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

West Indies have been in isolation in a bio-secure facility in Christchurch since arriving in New Zealand last Friday, though they were allowed to resume training after the entire squad tested negative for COVID-19 earlier this week.

New Zealand Cricket said on Friday the second round of testing had also come back negative and the side would have a further test next week before being released.

New Zealand has halted the spread of community infections and there are no restrictions on crowd sizes for the series that starts at Eden Park on Nov. 27.

“It has been a while,” Powell told reporters on a conference call on Friday. “I think it’s the longest cricket has gone without playing in front of crowds.

“So it’s good that New Zealand have dealt with their COVID situation the way they have so we will be able to play in front of crowds.”

West Indies are the only team to have embarked on two international tours during the pandemic, also touring England in July, although none of those matches allowed fans to attend.

New Zealand and Australia’s women’s teams played a series of matches in Brisbane last month with restrictions on the crowd sizes.

Powell, 27, said the team would look to put on a show for the fans by playing the same brand of aggressive cricket that brought them a second World Twenty20 title in 2016.

“The captain and coach have stressed on us the brand of cricket they want us to play leading up to the World Cup,” Powell said.

“All the guys have bought into that brand of cricket.

“I think it will bear fruit.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford