Keagan Simmons

SEASON OF PROMISE: In this January, 2020 photo, Red Force opener Keagan Simmons drives during his innings of 89 in a drawn match against Jamaica Scorpions at Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba. T&T Red Force’s 2nd-placing in the regional championship was their best in several years.

—Photo: ROGER SEEPERSAD

Barbados Pride were officially declared 2020 regional Four-Day cricket champions yesterday after Cricket West Indies (CWI) finally threw in the towel in the face of the rapidly-spreading COVID-19 coronavirus, calling an end to the stalled championship with two rounds left to play.

The Trinidad and Tobago Red Force finished a distant second while five-time defending champions Guyana Jaguars ended joint third with Jamaica Scorpions.

The annual tournament had been in limbo since CWI halted the competition more than a week ago due to the global pandemic.

Acting upon the advice of the CWI Medical Advisory Committee, the championship and two other regional competitions were called off following a Board of Directors teleconference yesterday afternoon. The decision was made to cancel the last two rounds of matches in the first-class season.

With Pride (134.8 points) atop the points table after the eighth round and 40.2 points clear of Red Force, the Board unanimously agreed to award the Headley/Weekes Trophy to the Barbados franchise.

Following the meeting, CWI’s CEO Johnny Grave said all of the Caribbean had to “work to together and act responsibly in containing the spread of the virus”.

He added: “Ten days ago, we suspended our tournaments and camps for 30 days and now we have extended that suspension until the end of May as well as reluctantly cancelled some tournaments and tours in their entirety. We will continue to monitor and assess the situation and make further decisions and announcements in due course.”

During yesterday’s teleconference, the CWI Board also cancelled two regional tournaments and postponed two others indefinitely. The Colonial Medical Insurance Women’s Super50 Cup and the Regional Under-15s Boys Championship will not be played this year while new dates for the Regional Under-19s Women’s T20 Championship and the West Indies Under-15s tour to England in the summer will have to be determined.

The Board also made the decision to cancel the West Indies High-Performance and International preparation training camps, at least until May 31, 2020.

There was no announcement, however, re England’s three-match home Test series against the West Indies in June. The first Test in London is set for June 4, to be followed by matches at Edgbaston and Lord’s starting on June 12 and 25, respectively.

With England having announced a virtual lockdown in their own fight against the global pandemic, time is not on the side of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). England are also scheduled to play a T20 International series against Australia and three Tests against Pakistan.

The West Indies are also scheduled to host New Zealand in three ODIs and three T20Is between July 8 and 19, with the ODI series being part of the qualification process for the 2023 World Cup.

CWI has also reinforced the importance for all Territorial Boards and Local Cricket Associations to follow the advice of their respective Ministries of Health.

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