Cricket: West Indies captain Jason Holder questions use of ‘home’ umpires after test series defeat to Black Caps

When Jason Holder is an old man, grandchildren at his knee in his beautifully appointed Bajan beachside house, he’ll be able to tell them about 2020 – the year where everything went a little bit mad.

He might not remember all the matches fondly – he might even choose to skip completely describing test matches in Hamilton and Wellington, for example – but he’ll proudly tell of the sacrifices his team made to keep the cricket world ticking over.

This winter they were in England, moving from one bio-bubble on the south coast to one in the north, then to back to the West Indies, but not home, to play the Caribbean Premier League in a bubble in Trinidad, then on to New Zealand and quarantine and isolation.

“It was a tough year,” he said, with about 17 days left in it, days that he will spend in Australia for the Big Bash.

“Credit to every individual that had to sacrifice, and the risks associated with health travelling around the world in this pandemic.

“It has been a tough year for me. I haven’t seen home in six months now. We’ve been going non-stop, we’ve had pay cuts. We have to make a living and make use of every opportunity we get but having said that, going from bubble to bubble, isolating in your room… sometimes your room gets smaller and smaller by the second.”

It’s an evocative description, and one those of us lucky to live a normal enough life in 2020 need to hear more.

“I know a few guys have had some tired minds. It will be good for the guys to get home for Christmas, to spend some time with their families. Hopefully some of them get there in time because some players have to do a quarantine going back home. This will be a much needed rest for some players.”

The West Indies tour Bangladesh in January. Holder doesn’t know when he’ll get home but despite the hits he’s taken here from a dominant New Zealand team, he still loves his cricket.

He has one question, though, and it’s not a bad one.

While the umpiring in this test was world-class and not too bad in Hamilton either, he doesn’t know why players are asked to sacrifice and quarantine, but officials are not.

“I know Polly [Kieron Pollard] had a few questions over the umpiring in the T20 series but you know I try to be as fair down the line, and what I would say with the situation of the umpires is if we can travel and do quarantine, I don’t see why an ‘opposing’ umpire can’t travel into quarantine.

“I don’t understand a situation where we just have home umpires. If players have to sacrifice, go on the road and continue cricket, then umpires should do the same. But the umpiring in the test series, I can’t say it’s been horrible.”

Unlike, you could say, the year 2020 AD.

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