Safety the critical issue in rescheduling England series, says Holder
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West Indies captain Jason Holder celebrates reaching his 100 during Day Three of the First Test match between England and West Indies at Kensington Oval on January 25, 2019 in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
West Indies captain Jason Holder celebrates reaching his 100 during Day Three of the First Test match between England and West Indies at Kensington Oval on January 25, 2019 in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

CMC – WEST Indies captain Jason Holder believes safety should be the main mitigating factor in whether the three-Test tour of England goes ahead later this year.

The Caribbean side were scheduled to tour England in June but both Cricket West Indies and the England and Wales Cricket Board 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 ravishing the United Kingdom, Holder said it was important authorities monitored the situation carefully before going giving the green light to 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 in order to have the series against West Indies staged in July, including playing behind closed doors and enforcing strict quarantine and social distancing protocols.

Holder, who has led West Indies in the longest format for the last five years, conceded 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 pointed out.

“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.”

The global pandemic has also led to a cessation of cricket in the Caribbean with CWI forced to abort its domestic first class championship after eight of the scheduled 10 rounds, and also postpone other tournaments.

West Indies are also scheduled to host New Zealand and South Africa between July and August but both tours are now also in doubt.

Holder said the important thing for players during the downtime was to remain safe and make good use of the time.

“It is something that none of us are accustomed to and it has been difficult, it’s presented its challenges,” said the number one Test all-rounder in the world.

“For me, it’s just the fact that I’ve not been confined to one space for so long ever in my life. But it is what it is. We’ve got to play the waiting game and make sure we’re all safe and can pass this time.”

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