DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Test captain Jason Holder has urged authorities to keep the issues surrounding racial justice at the forefront of sports after he and West Indies were this week honoured with the Peter Smith Award by the Cricket Writers Club for their “trailblazing” tour of England last July.
The three-match series marked the resumption of international cricket following the global lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also came at the height of global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the killing of American George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States earlier in the year.
Throughout the series, both teams kneeled before the start of each Test as a mark of support for BLM but Holder said he had been disappointed to see the practice discontinued for England’s subsequent series against Pakistan and Australia.
“I was following a bit of what Mikey Holding was saying,” Holder said in reference to Holding’s recent criticism of England for abandoning the on-field support for the BLM movement.
“It’s difficult to get people to see the importance of it and that’s where the education has to continue to filter through.
West Indies Test captain Jason Holder.
“I personally was a bit disappointed to see how the Pakistan and Australia tours that went on after ours, that they were not showing their solidarity afterwards.
“It’s a hard challenge and a long hard road. It’s not an overnight fix but the most important thing is we need to come together and see each other as equal human beings.”
Holding, a legendary former West Indies fast bowler who is now a well-respected international television analyst, criticised the England and Wales Cricket Board over the decision not to continue the practice of kneeling.
He said even though the West Indies tour had finished “that doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t be respecting the message and exactly what it stands for.”
Holder, a late call-up to represent Sunrisers Hyderabad in the ongoing Indian Premier League, said there had also been little mention of the Black Lives Matter movement in the cash-rich tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
“I haven’t had one conversation [in the IPL] around it,” said the world’s top-ranked Test all-rounder.
“Sometimes it seems it has gone unnoticed, which is a sad thing. I guess it’s for us to re-highlight the importance of it.”
Holder and West Indies received the award from the United Kingdom-based entity for their “outstanding contribution to the presentation of cricket to the public”.
The Cricket Writers Club said not only had the Caribbean side engaged in a historic tour at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but had also added their voices to the global discourse on racial inequality.
“Holder led a trailblazing tour party that flew into the unknown at the height of the COVID-crisis in the UK, from the relative safety of the Caribbean,” the body said.
“As the first sports team to enter a bio-bubble, they showed great forbearance, holed up in two hotels for seven weeks, and were instrumental in rescuing the international summer for cricket lovers and the ECB.
“Holder also conducted himself with grace on and off the field, speaking eloquently on race and racism and the need for education and unity, during a period of turbulence precipitated by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.”