England vs West Indies: Lockdown has brought the squad together, Phil Simmons

Cricket is set to restart after a long hiatus but will however be played under new circumstances. Ahead of the upcoming three-Test series between England vs West Indies, Caribbean coach Phil Simmons expressed his thoughts on how the pandemic has made the team a closer unit. 

A 39-member West Indies squad has been camping in England from June 9 to prepare for the series. Under the circumstances, Simmons’ job as a coach has been to keep the boys in the right frame of mind and feels the pandemic has rather brought the team close. 

“A month-long lockdown has been good for us. It has brought the squad together and helped us understand each other. The players have bonded well. Even though we couldn’t step outside the hotel barring outdoor practice sessions, we went to gym and did a lot of activities together in the team room. Particularly, the bowling group has come together,” the former West Indies cricketer said.

With cricket’s apex council coming up with a set of stringent policies to ensure the game is played risk free, the players are staying in biosecure conditions and will be playing behind closed doors. The ICC has also banned the use of saliva to shine the ball.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons also opined that playing in front of empty stands will affect the players mentally. However, in a latest arrangement, the issue has been addressed in a bid to provide a competitive environment for the players. 

To fill in the void of the fans, crowd noise will be simulated and music will be played during the fixture. The broadcasters would be monitoring and controlling the stump mics as well in the absence of any crowd noises at the stadium.