It is just as well that Jason Holder is an experienced, intelligent captain – and diplomat – as he heads up an unusual expedition in unusual circumstances.
At his first press conference on English soil, conducted on Zoom, Holder was asked about a range of non-cricketing issues, such as whether and how his players were going to respond to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He gave a measured answer, saying he would first discuss with his team whether they would make a gesture and how best to do that rather than making off-the-cuff commitments.
“It will be discussed amongst ourselves and we’ll decide how we’ll go forward as a team,” Holder said. “But I don’t want to sit here and speak for the other members without consulting them. I think that would be wrong.
“I just want to make sure that whatever we do – if we do anything – is done the right way. And if we do decide to show some sort of solidarity we make sure that everybody is on the same page. For me the greatest thing at the end of the day is unity. We must all come together, there must be equality across the world.”
Before diverting to the peculiarities of this cricket tour Holder also spoke about the need for education. “A lot of people live but do not know exactly what goes on around them and this is the perfect time to educate yourselves and make a change.”
Holder has always been party to the discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board around what a possible tour to England might look like. “We obviously had our internal discussions with Cricket West Indies as well and we just tried to gather as much information as possible,” he said. “Having that information was crucial to be able to then answer any questions from the players. At no point in time did we force anybody to come. Everybody had their free will.”
In the end, three players – Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul – chose not to be available.
First impressions upon landing in England were favourable. “To be honest, I feel pretty safe,” Holder said. “I must commend the ECB; they’ve been outstanding. We had a chartered airline and arriving here yesterday in Manchester was pretty smooth. We just transferred directly from the plane through the VIP arrival hall and then from there straight on to the buses directly to the hotel.”
The players will be locked away throughout their stay but Holder explained that they have prepared for that and it is not so different from some of their tours to the subcontinent. And he wants to play some cricket.
“Oh man, I’ve been sat at home for the last couple of months doing nothing. So to be getting some cricket, doing something I love, is great and I think most of the guys feel the same way. We haven’t had competitive cricket for a while. We don’t even know what is going to happen after this series. So I think it is an opportunity that we should all grasp.”