Skipper Balbirnie among positive cases as CWI, CI scrap second ODI

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, (CMC) – West Indies’ series against Ireland was thrown into doubt Monday after two additional players, including captain Andy Balbirnie, tested positive for COVID-19, forcing organisers to postpone today’s second One-Day International at Sabina Park.

Balbirnie and wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker, both of whom featured in Saturday’s opening 24-run defeat, returned positive tests, along with interim head coach David Ripley, leaving five active cases among the visitors’ camp.

The pair of Simi Singh and Ben White were ruled out of the first ODI also with positive tests last weekend and with Andy McBrine still recovering from a mild concussion suffered in the first game and seamer Mark Adair struggling with a foot injury, it means Ireland have a severely depleted squad.

In a joint statement, Cricket West Indies (CWI) and Cricket Ireland (CI) said the five positive cases remained isolated and “under the care and supervision of the medical teams”, and discussions would now take place over the match schedule in order to “explore all possibilities for the series to be completed.”

“Cricket West Indies and Cricket Ireland have met throughout the day and have made a determination based on the safety and security of all the players and support staff, to postpone the second CG Insurance One-Day International,” CWI chief executive, Johnny Grave said.

“Unfortunately, with five members of the Ireland squad now returning a positive COVID-19 infection, two members of their squad being injured and two recently arriving in Jamaica following being positive for COVID-19 in Florida when they were playing the USA national side, Ireland have almost nine players of their squad unavailable for selection.

“We will continue our discussions with Cricket Ireland.”

Balbirnie top-scored with 71 at the top of the order while Tucker made nine at number six, as Ireland failed to chase down 269 in the opening ODI on Saturday.

Their positive results, along with Ripley’s, were the only ones recorded following the encounter, however.

“All the West Indies players, support staff, match officials and TV crew have been tested regularly throughout their time in Jamaica, and there are no other positive cases reported outside of the five within the Cricket Ireland camp,” Grave stressed.

“And we hope very much that we’ll be able to complete the series in the coming week.”

Veteran Paul Stirling and Shane Getkate, both of whom returned positive tests before leaving Florida last month, have both now recovered and are expected to return to the squad.

The pair were part of a cluster in the Ireland camp which forced the cancellation of the one-day series against the United States in Fort Lauderdale last month.

West Indies suffered a similar fate also last month when an outbreak in their touring party forced the three-match ODI series against Pakistan in Karachi to be hastily scrapped.

Positive cases emerged before and during the preceding Twenty20 International series but the three games went ahead, with West Indies suffering a series whitewash.

With England arriving shortly for a five-match T20 series in Barbados, the Ireland tour could now be in jeopardy, with the third ODI originally scheduled for Friday and the one-off T20 International set for next Sunday.
The England series is set to bowl off on January 22 at Kensington Oval.

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