Eng vs WI | ‘Means a hell of a lot to us’, says coach Simmons

International cricket is set to return after a pandemic-enforced break of almost four months, with England hosting West Indies in a bio-secure environment for a three-Test series starting Wednesday.

In addition to the usual pre-match matters such as team combination and opposition assessment, West Indies has plenty to ponder.

The touring side will have to contend with the reality of playing in empty stadia and not using saliva to shine the ball — something England will have to deal with as well. But Jason Holder’s men are also mulling over the means at their disposal to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement when the first Test begins in Southampton.

Head coach Phil Simmons wasn’t sure whether his team would kneel to pay its respects to George Floyd, a victim of police brutality in Minneapolis, USA. But he was confident the squad would express solidarity in some fashion on Wednesday.

“It means a hell of a lot to all the players, all the support staff on the tour,” Simmons said during a media interaction on Monday. “It’s something that is not just about now. It’s about life as a whole. We as a group don’t need to say, ‘Look, this is going to motivate us’. It motivates us all the time.

“That’s a part of our life. I am not sure whether we are going to touch our knee [to the ground]. We’ll make a decision tonight [Monday] as to what we can do, but we’re definitely doing something. We’ve already had the logo put on the collar of our shirts, so that’s a start.”

Simmons stated that the team is not too bothered about playing in front of empty stands since Tests “back home don’t really see too much attendance” and said that the two warm-up matches had helped the bowlers cope with the regulation of not using saliva to shine the ball.

“Not being able to put saliva on the ball is a huge thing because that’s what we’ve grown up with. But you must find other ways to do it. A couple of days in the practice game were hard, but now we don’t have that headache. We have found other ways to shine the ball and keep the ball in shape,” he said.

The England vs. West Indies series will be telecast live on Sony Six channels

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