Well-being of their families was the sole concern behind Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul's refusal to tour England amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave has revealed.
Bravo, Hetmyer and Paul - all centrally-contracted all-format players - refused to tour the country for a series next month and Grave said he can understand their reasons and empathise with them.
“Keemo Paul is the sole breadwinner in his entire household and wider family. He was really concerned if something happened to him how his family would cope,” Grave told ESPNCricinfo .
The 22-year-old Paul, who has played three Tests, 19 ODIs and 18 T20Is for West Indies, had written an email to the board explaining his reasons for declining the tour.
“He wrote passionately about how hard a decision it was for him and how much he loves playing for West Indies, but with consultation with his family he doesn’t feel he can leave them and doesn’t want to go on the tour,” Grave said.
Grave revealed that Hetmyer, who consistently featured in the Test team since his debut in 2017, had also communicated in an e-mail to CWI that he “didn’t feel comfortable from a safety point of view, leaving his home, leaving his family and heading over to England“.
Bravo too was concerned about the situation in the UK, where there have been over 2.70 lakh cases, and didn’t want to leave his young family behind.
He also mentioned he made his decision with great remorse as it was always a huge honour for him to play for West Indies,” Grave said.
“So, yes, perfectly valid reasons and the ones that we fully respect. We were never going to force or try to coerce and we didn’t ask them to reconsider.”
Grave said their decision will not be held against the trio as the board too wants players who don’t have any “nagging doubts” about the tour.
“It is in everyone’s interest if you are not comfortable to say so and not tour and be certain that it is not going to be held against you.
“Rather than go, be worried, and ultimately don’t perform or want to come home. So it is a good decision all round. We are still taking a strong Test side to England.”
A 25-member Caribbean team will be arriving next Tuesday in England in chartered flights for the three-match Test series, beginning July 8.
The series to be held in a bio-secure environment is likely to mark the restart of international cricket, which was shut down in March following the health crisis.
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