Skipper Jason Holder wants safety first for Windies

Jason Holder

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -West Indies Test captain Jason Holder believes that safety should be the main deciding factor in whether the three-Test tour of England goes ahead later this year.

The Caribbean side was scheduled to tour England in June, but both Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) agreed last week to postpone the series, with the hope of staging it in the July to September window.

But with the novel coronavirus pandemic still affecting the United Kingdom, Holder said it is important that authorities monitor the situation carefully before going ahead with the series.

“We’re still sitting back and waiting. I just think it’s a situation where we’re all monitoring the situation over in England, particularly in Europe as well,” Holder told CNC3 TV here.

“I’ve seen a few things in other sports where they’ve pushed the schedules back and not having fans … but it’s a waiting game. We can only sit tight and hope and pray we resume some type of normalcy in the not-too-distant future.

“This thing has been really, really serious, as we all know, and has claimed quite a few lives throughout the world, and that’s the last thing any of us would really want. I think we’ve got to play the safety card first before we can even think about resuming our normal lives.”

The UK has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19, resulting in 171,000 infections and 26,000 deaths. As a result, all major sporting events have been halted, with the ECB further delaying the start of its domestic itinerary until July 1.

Ambitious plans have been proposed to have the series against Windies staged in July, including playing behind closed doors and enforcing strict quarantine and social-distancing protocols.

Holder, who has led the Windies in Tests for the last five years, said that while playing behind closed doors was not “ideal”, players would be amenable to the idea if there were no options available.

“It would be something really difficult,” the 28-year-old Barbadian said.

“To play at the highest level to empty stands to me is not ideal, but if circumstances do dictate that has to be the case, well I just think we’ve got to get on with it.

“It’s a bigger picture of cricket actually being played – there are a number of events going on, the bilateral and also the Test championship – so it’s just a matter for us to get on with it and accept it for what it is if it comes to that.”