Windies cleared to leave isolation in New Zealand after COVID-19 testing

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FILE PHOTO: First Test - England v West Indies
FILE PHOTO: First Test - England v West Indies

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The West Indies cricket team have been cleared to leave their biosecure facility in Christchurch on Friday after their third round of novel coronavirus tests were negative, New Zealand Cricket said on Thursday.

The squad, who were banned by New Zealand's Ministry of Health from training after they breached biosecurity rules, travel to Queenstown on Friday for two warmup games ahead of the first Twenty20 international on Nov. 27.

NZC added that all of the New Zealand and West Indies players who arrived in Auckland on Thursday following the end of the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates, had passed initial health screening checks.

They are to spend the next two weeks in isolation in Christchurch.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons had earlier apologised for his players breaching biosecurity protocols that led to their exemption to conduct training sessions being withdrawn.

The team had been allowed to train in small groups while undergoing the mandatory 14-day isolation, but the Ministry revoked those privileges after they discovered players had shared food and socialised together.

"I have to apologise to the New Zealand public and the government who have allowed us to come here," Simmons told Newshub. "It's embarrassing from our point of view."

The Windies lost a total of four days training because of the breaches and Simmons said they might be a little slow to get their conditioning and match fitness back.

"We were just getting to the levels that we would normally start at, but coming from no cricket, we had to start slower," he said.

The Caribbean team's first outing on Nov. 20 will be against a New Zealand 'A' side containing three local batsmen in contention for the test series starting on Dec. 3.

The uncapped Will Young and Devon Conway join middle-order stalwart Henry Nicholls, who is working his way back from a calf injury, in the squad for the three-day match.

South African-born Conway only qualified to play for New Zealand in August, while Young has battled back from shoulder surgery.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Toby Davis and Lincoln Feast.)