Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, insists his side’s trip to England for a Test series in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is neither dictated by money nor a sense of adventurism but the move is a genuine effort to bring back normality.
West Indies players arrived in England on Tuesday for a three-match Test series, starting on July 8 at Southampton in a bio-secure environment. It will be cricket’s first international engagement since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic halted all sporting action.
“A lot of people were crying out for cricket,” Holder told the BBC. “It is not the case we wanted to be guinea pigs but, having said that, we always had a tour plan here in the UK this summer. After we spoke about the possibilities of it coming off, everybody was comfortable and here we are now.”
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been much severe in the UK where more than 40,000 deaths have been. In the Caribbean, however, only a few hundred cases have emerged.
Holder said the reason for their arrival is not money and that they won’t compromise on health.
“It is not about money for us — we want safety and want to make sure we are treated fairly and we just get on with it,” Holder said. “If you put yourself in the position of a health care worker or someone who has worked on the front line throughout this whole pandemic, they have not had the opportunity to sit back at home and run from the virus.
“We are fortunate we have not been in that position but having said that, at some point in time you have to make an effort to get back to some kind of normality.”
Since arriving in the UK, West Indies have entered quarantine at Emirates Old Trafford where they will spend three weeks.
Holder was impressed with the way the England and Wales Cricket Board has arranged everything for the side.
He said hand sanitisers, disposable gloves and thermometers had been widely available at their accommodation.
“Things like that give you a sigh of relief and that much more comfort,” Holder said.
“If we didn’t have things like this it would make you wonder if it was actually safe and again I cannot thank the ECB enough for what they have done so far”.
Holder also spoke about the impact of anti-racism protests, that have been witnessed around the world since the death of African-American George Floyd in the USA, on the team.
“We have had previous series, particularly against England, where people have come out and said things before series and that has fuelled us as West Indians,” Holder said. “Who knows, this could be something serious we could build on and get some real positive energy throughout the entire group.”