West Indies depart for England with stop-gap batting coach

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup - Sri Lanka v West Indies - Emirates Riverside, Chester-Le-Street, Britain - July 1, 2019 West Indies Jason Holder celebrates taking the wicket of Sri Lanka Dimuth Karunaratne Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

(Reuters) - Cricket West Indies (CWI) said the team had departed for their tour of England on Monday after testing negative for COVID-19, with Floyd Reifer filling in for India-based batting coach Monty Desai, who cannot join the side due to travel restrictions.

The team departed from Antigua after undergoing the mandatory tests, which they would undergo again after reaching Manchester, CWI said in a statement.

“Floyd Reifer will join the coaching staff as batting coach, as he fills in for Monty Desai, who is based in India and due to travel restrictions cannot join the team for this tour,” it added.

Team analyst A. R. Srikkanth would assist the squad remotely from Bengaluru for the same reason.

The three-test series will be played in a bio-secure environment and skipper Jason Holder said before leaving for the seven-week tour it was a “huge step forward” for cricket.

“A lot has gone into the preparations for what will be a new phase in the game,” he added.

“... I know everyone is eagerly looking forward to the start of the first match when we can get back on the field of play.”

The first test is scheduled at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton from July 8, with the last two matches at Old Trafford in Manchester.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Peter Rutherford