West Indies in line to tour England in 2009
The West Indies Cricket Board has confirmed its interest in touring England in May and June next year, as a replacement for Sri Lanka who last week announced that they were pulling out of their proposed trip and would be honouring their contracts to play in the Indian Premier League.
A press release from the WICB stated that the board "has received an invitation from the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to tour England in 2009 and the matter is under discussion," while Dr Donald Peters, the WICB chief executive, confirmed that the proposal is for two Test matches and three one-day internationals.
"We are examining all possibilities," Peters added. "At this stage it presents some challenges because West Indies will be hosting a series - including Tests and one-day internationals - against Bangladesh in early May next year.
"If we accept the invitation we would have to determine how best we could work out the logistics and planning issues."
West Indies are the third team to be considered by England for the pre-Ashes series next summer. Zimbabwe were originally slated to make a visit but their tour was cancelled due to political pressure, while the likelihood of Sri Lanka touring had been in doubt ever since SLC gave its players the go-ahead to take part in the IPL's second season, even though the dates clashed.
Rather than hosting a second-string Sri Lankan team - which would almost certainly have damaged ticket sales and jeopardised the status of Test cricket as the ultimate form of the game - West Indies have been earmarked as a more marketable alternative. They too have players in the IPL, but it is expected they will be part of the touring party.
The West Indies players do have commitments with their sponsors, Digicel, which could in the future cause problems should they want to be released for the IPL in preference to major international events