West Indies coach Simmons okay with fractured buildup

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Almost half of the West Indies squad available for their first Twenty20 international against New Zealand later this month will only have been released from isolation on the morning of the game, coach Phil Simmons has said.

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - Second Test - England v West Indies - Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - July 19, 2020 West Indies head coach Phil Simmons before the start of play, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Jon Super/Pool via REUTERS

A small group of West Indies players and management arrived in New Zealand on Friday after an exhausting 54-hour journey from Barbados and were immediately placed into a mandatory 14-day isolation.

The rest of the squad will not arrive until after their commitments to the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates end and then be in isolation until the morning of the Nov. 27 match.

“It’s a little bit difficult,” Simmons told New Zealand Cricket’s website. “The main T20 guys are in isolation until the morning of the first game.

“The plus is that they will be coming from a high quality tournament so they will be sharp.”

The players who arrived on Friday will remain in isolation in Christchurch until Monday when they will be able to train together in small groups at New Zealand Cricket’s high performance centre.

Simmons added while it was less than an ideal buildup to the tour, which includes three Twenty20 internationals and two tests, the team was getting used to the routine of isolation and bio-secure bubbles.

West Indies were the first team to embark on an international tour during the coronavirus pandemic when they played England in July.

Simmons, however, said the pandemic had not really changed their planning for the defence of their Twenty20 World Cup title.

The tournament was supposed to have been played in Australia this year but was shifted to 2022, with the next tournament now in India in 2021.

“We will continue with how we planned our preparations going forward,” Simmons said.

“There were a few guys who weren’t in the team in Sri Lanka (in March) and they will be trying to push themselves into the final 15 for next year.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sam Holmes