ECB confirm West Indies visit
The ECB has confirmed West Indies will tour England for two Tests and three one-day internationals in April and May next year. This means Sri Lanka's proposed visit is off, the first instance of the IPL taking precedence over a Test series.
Sri Lanka had been lined up for a tour, and dates had been agreed, following the British government's decision to cut bilateral ties with Zimbabwe, who were scheduled to play three ODIs. However, 13 leading Sri Lanka players with IPL contracts made it clear they wouldn't be available as the trip clashed with the league's second season in India and the ECB was not keen on hosting a second-string side.
"Sri Lanka's tour of England next year is off," Duleep Mendis, the SLC chief executive said. "We informed the ECB that that we are not on a position to go there next year."
West Indies were the favourites to take their place after offering their services to the ECB even though some of their players, including Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, also have IPL deals.
They will play two Tests, the first at Lord's starting on May 6 following by one at Chester-le-Street from May 14. Those will be followed by three one-day internationals ahead of the World Twenty20 in June.
"The ECB is delighted that West Indies will replace Zimbabwe for the 2009 tour," ECB chief executive David Collier said. "West Indies are always popular visitors and this completes a wonderful summer of cricket which also includes the Ashes series and the World Twenty20.
"The ECB is most grateful for the excellent support and co-operation provided by the West Indies board, with whom we have developed an excellent and warm relationship."
The two teams will certainly get familiar with each other during the first half of 2009. England travel to the Caribbean in February for four Tests, a Twenty20 international and five ODIs.
West Indies were due to tour England in 2010 under the FTP, but the ECB have said they will now consider their options to replace that series.
The announcement of the series means that the 2009 English domestic fixture list can now be completed after a delay of more than a month. The county programme is normally released in early November, but the lack of confirmed dates for the early international matches was causing difficulties.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh's tour of West Indies which was originally scheduled for May will now take place after the World Twenty20 in June.