West Indies captain Jason Holder believes the encouraging global response to the sprawling Black Lives Matter movement could prove an inspiration to his players when they take on England in the upcoming three-Test series.
The West Indies is the first international sports team to travel to Britain since the country went into lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet the narrative of a tour taking place in bio-secure conditions has shifted somewhat because of the outbreak of widespread protests, including in many English cities, following the death of George Floyd.
Speaking for the first time since arriving in England, Holder said discussions will be held within the squad about the issue and whether players will “show some sort of solidarity with it” during the tour.
“West Indians are fueled and motivated in different ways,” Holder said. “Who knows, this could be something serious that we build on and get some really positive energy going throughout the group.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Minnesota, died after a white police officer pressed his knee into the handcuffed Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he begged for air. His death has become a worldwide symbol in demonstrations over calls for changes to police practices and an end to racial prejudices.
Holder said it was a time “for all of us to unite as one” and for people to get more educated about the issue of racism.
“What has happened recently ... has impacted the world and the response from people around the world has been tremendous,” he said.
“To be honest,” Holder added, “a lot of people live and don’t know exactly what goes on around them, and this is the perfect time to educate yourselves around it and make a change.”
Holder and his teammates have travelled to one of the hardest-hit countries during the pandemic — Britain has recorded more than 40,000 coronavirus deaths — and the squad will be tested frequently for COVID-19 during a tour that will start with a period of quarantine in a Manchester hotel linked to Old Trafford cricket ground.
West Indies will live and train in what is being described as a “bio-secure environment” that will restrict players’ movement.
Holder said he was treating it like a “subcontinent tour” because he doesn’t “do too much moving around in those countries.” Players will watch computer games, watch TV and be provided with “entertainment within the hotel,” he said.
“The mere fact we are getting an opportunity to play cricket, I think we should cherish that,” Holder said. “Many organizations are taking pay cuts and we have suddenly got our opportunity now to make some money so we have a lot of things to be thankful for.”
Holder said he feels “pretty safe” in England.
“I’ve been sat at home for the last couple of months doing nothing,” he said. “So to be getting some cricket, doing something I love and have loved doing from the time I started doing it ... 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.”
There will be no spectators allowed at the three Tests which are being played over just 21 days — starting in Southampton on July 8 and at Old Trafford on July 16 and 24.
“I know quite a few people play cricket on the back of the support in the stands,” Holder said. “I myself tend to be pumped up a little more when I see packed stadiums and a relatively decent crowd.
“But, in the context of the situation, it is not going to be possible so we’ve got to find other ways to get geed up and motivated, which shouldn’t be a problem.”