MANCHESTER, England (CMC) — West Indies Captain Jason Holder has praised the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the safety protocols implemented for the upcoming Test series, saying Wednesday the Caribbean side felt “safe” after arriving here for the historic tour.
He said having been flown from the Caribbean by private charter on Monday, the team had experienced a seamless transition from the airport to hotel, with little interaction with the public.
The tour is taking place in the face of a global public health crisis triggered by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has already caused over 41,000 deaths in the United Kingdom.
“I feel pretty safe. I must commend the ECB, they’ve been outstanding so far,” Holder told a media conference conducted via Zoom from Old Trafford here where the entire touring party has been quarantined for the next two weeks.
“Arriving here in Manchester yesterday was pretty smooth. We just transitioned directly from the plane through a VIP arrival hall and then from there straight on the buses and directly to the hotel so we had no real interface with anyone from the public; obviously just the workers at the airport and here at the hotel as well.”
The three-Test series will be the first of its kind to be played behind closed doors and under strict social distancing, health and sanitisation protocols. Players will be isolated from the public throughout the seven-week tour, first at the “biosecure” Old Trafford facility and then at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
The teams will return to Old Trafford for the final two Tests. Originally, the series had been carded for May but had to be postponed after the United Kingdom found itself in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Negotiations between the ECB and Cricket West Indies resulted in the proposed series from July 8-28, with West Indies arriving a month prior to undergo the necessary quarantine and preparation.
“Before coming here to England we all knew what was being posed,” Holder pointed out.
“It was a situation of constant dialogue as to what a possible series would look like coming over here to the UK and at no point in time we forced anybody to come. Everybody had their free will.
“I just think it’s a case where at some point or the other we had to resume some type of normalcy. We have been assured by the ECB that the relevant protocols have been put in place and so far since we’ve got here, everything has been smooth.”
Holder, who oversaw the Windies’ capture of the coveted Wisden Trophy last year, said it was important that players adjusted to the new measures which were unavoidable across most sporting disciplines.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to be the normal bilateral series here in England, but at the end of the day this is where we are with the state of world cricket —state of the world per se,” he stressed.
“I’ve been watching other sports on TV and it is different and no doubt it will be different but again, we’ve just got to get on with it and try to make the most of the circumstances in these trying times.”