Windies coach Simmons puts his faith in domino theory

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London (AFP)

Dominoes may be an unusual way to get ready for cricket but West Indies coach Phil Simmons believes the traditional Caribbean past time will help his squad's morale ahead of their behind-closed-doors Test series with England.

The West Indies arrived in Manchester on Tuesday and will now spend several weeks at Old Trafford ahead of the first Test at Southampton starting on July 8 before returning to Lancashire's headquarters for the final two matches.

The three-Test series will mark the return of international cricket following the coronavirus shutdown.

But with COVID-19 still very much a reality in Britain, where the virus has killed more than 50,000 people, players won't be able to go out and about as they would normally after training or a match day.

Simmons, while acknowledging the seriousness of the pandemic, said the likes of West Indies captain Jason Holder would ensure the squad remained in buoyant mood at a trying time.

"There's always dominoes –- as you can imagine if you've been to the Caribbean that is a highly explosive form of entertainment," Simmons told a conference call on Saturday.

"We have a golf simulation centre, we have cards, a few things the guys are enjoying. When you have characters like Jason Holder everyone is always laughing and enjoying themselves."

- 'Guys are hungry' -

Simmons, himself a former West Indies all-rounder, added: "The biggest challenge is boredom, but saying that in this scenario –- because of doing nothing, no cricket being play for the last however many months –- that will take a while to come into play.

"The guys are hungry, they want to play and practise."

The West Indies hold the Wisden Trophy after beating England in the Caribbean last year but it is more than three decades since they last won a series on English soil.

In Britain, the BBC are currently screening highlights of classic England-West Indies matches, most recently the 1984 Test at Lord's where Gordon Greenidge scored an unbeaten double century in a stunning win after home captain David Gower had set the tourists the then seemingly impossible task of scoring 342 in under a day.

West Indies' era as the dominant force in world cricket has sometimes seemed a burden to present-day players in weaker sides but Simmons hopes a proud history will help inspire Holder's men.

"I saw (on television) the Test at Lord's where Gordon scored a double (hundred) on the last day," he said.

"I'm not too sure how close some of the younger players are (to the past) but we're trying to bring that back, get younger guys to understand where we've come from in terms of being top of the world for such a long time.

"Sometimes when you know the whole West Indies saga is coming from, it gives you more impetus to be pushing forward to get the team back on top."