England Women will finally get to play international cricket as the West Indies team will visit in September, the ECB confirmed on Tuesday. Co-incidentally, men’s international cricket also resumed after the coronavirus lockdown with England taking on West Indies in a bio-secure bubble.
The two sides will play five T20Is and they will be held in Derby, between September 21 and 30. Keeping in line with the interim ICC regulations for international cricket, the series will be a closed-door event, in a bio-secure environment.
England was due to host India and South Africa for a tri-series before BCCI pulled out its team due to "logistical issues". Turned into a bilateral event, it was cancelled altogether when it emerged that even South Africa can't travel due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
"It's so pleasing after many months of work and communication with colleagues across the international game that we are now able to confirm international cricket for England Women this summer," said ECB Managing Director of Women's Cricket, Clare Connor.
"We're grateful to the West Indies for the pace and determination with which they have worked with us over the last couple of weeks. It's fantastic for the visibility of the women's game that the third IT20 will be simulcast live on the BBC and Sky Sports and I hope that it's an event that catches the attention of some new fans.
"We're all still adapting and will need to continue to adapt to the sporting landscape left by COVID-19. That does not mean that we will give any less focus to the women's and girls' game and we're totally committed to continuing our ambitions in that area."
As a result of this confirmation, the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final will now be played on September 27 instead. However, all of England's 24 players currently in a training group will be available for the first two rounds of the domestic tournament, on August 29 and August 31. A final squad for the T20I series will be picked then.
"Protecting the momentum of the women's game was one of our four stated aims right at the beginning of the pandemic in March and I'm delighted that, despite the enormous difficulties that COVID-19 has created, we'll see England Women in action this summer," ECB Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison said.
"It has been critical to us that our efforts to deliver bio-secure standards and support visiting opponents have been equal to those that have so successfully delivered in the England men's series. We are immensely grateful to the team at Derby who have supported this ambition throughout the summer with testing and now delivery.
"There were 86,000 fans in attendance at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup final in March and the direction of travel in the women's game in England and Wales has been relentlessly positive over the last few years. That momentum must continue despite the challenges of COVID-19, and we do not underestimate our role in driving that agenda."