GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC):
All members of the West Indies training squad have tested negative for COVID-19, paving the way for head coach Phil Simmons to ramp up preparation for the two-Test series against South Africa starting in 12 days.
The latest round of PCR testing was conducted Thursday and with no positives reported, the 30-man squad were allowed to train in two groups on Friday and Saturday at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.
Previously, the squad was forced to train in smaller groups after Jamaican speedster Marquino Mindley tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
However, the 26-year-old, who is still asymptomatic, tested negative in last Thursday’s round of testing but will remain in isolation until he returns a second negative test.
Preparation will move into high gear tomorrow when a four-day match gets underway at the training venue, and Simmons urged players – especially those who had excelled in recent series – not to rest on their laurels.
“I am happy that we are back to full training,” he said. “We are happy with the preparations up to this point and everyone is fully aware of what is required.
“Yes, we had four good Test matches (against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), but at the same time, people need to know that their position is not guaranteed unless they continue to play well.
“Guys who out need to show that they want to get back in by doing well in these games. So, it is a benefit to every one of us.”
The 30-man squad features Nkrumah Bonner, Kyle Mayers and Joshua Da Silva, all of whom have starred for West Indies this year with the bat, in series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
SHAI HOPE BACK
Also in the group, however, is Shai Hope who was axed for last December’s tour of New Zealand, but flourished in the One-Day International series against Sri Lanka last March with a hundred and two half-centuries.
All-rounder Roston Chase, a fixture in the Test side in recent years but recently dropped after a run of poor form, has been included in the training group and will be hoping to impress.
The squad will be whittled down in the lead-up to the first Test which bowls off June 10-14, with the second match getting underway from June 18-22.
South Africa are scheduled to arrive here on Tuesday.