After the completion of the Test series between England and West Indies, whose occurrence saved the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) from a financial crisis, West Indies captain Jason Holder wants England to tour the Caribbean later this year in return of the Test series.
Holder also believes that a more equitable revenue sharing model needs to be considered by the ICC to help support boards outside the so-called big three of England, Australia and India.
The ECB do owe a debt of gratitude to the West Indies for agreeing to this tour. With each Test worth around GBP 20million in broadcast fees, had the series, originally scheduled for June been abandoned, there would have been a hefty loss and would also have put the rest of the summer in doubt, resulting in even greater losses that the ECB estimated could have run to GBP 280million. As it is, Ireland, Pakistan and, hopefully, Australia will now all follow West Indies’ lead given the series has gone off as planned.
The sacrifice of the West Indies players and support staff, who have taken a 50% pay cut and yet travelled to one of the worst affected COVID-19 areas from one of the least affected in the Caribbean, demands a repayment from the ECB in the future. Holder presented a few practical ideas. He opinionated, “I was speaking to our chief executive, Johnny Grave, who highlighted that we really only make money from playing England and India (at home). Maybe we break even with Australia and Pakistan. But we lose money against other teams.”
“We don’t know what’s going to happen after this series with the international calendar but if there is an opportunity for England to come over to the Caribbean before the end of the year that would help significantly. It’s been a tough last few years for us financially, pretty much and we’ve taken a pay cut due to the circumstances. A tour hopefully, if it is possible before the end of 2020, would help keep us afloat.”
Speaking about the revenue sharing model of the ICC, Holder said, “Now more than ever highlights the differences in revenue scale when it comes to international cricket. England get a huge chunk of money, Australia can stand on their own two feet, India is a powerhouse. Outside those top three nations, pretty much most other nations will struggle. We’re having a massive difficulty in funding our cricket – not only international cricket but every single age group-level cricket, A team programmes, our development programmes.”
“(Revenue-sharing) is definitely something that needs to be looked at from the powers that be. I don’t think there’s any other series that could have been played during COVID. The additional costs of hosting the series is massive. We would have struggled in the Caribbean to host any team in the Caribbean without any financial support. This is me personally bringing up a case for looking at the revenue distribution, particularly from the ICC, to see how better we could support the smaller countries in world cricket.”
“If something doesn’t happen soon enough we could see less international cricket being played by the smaller countries. They just can’t afford it. If you see, we’ve gone from having four-five match series, we’re down to two and three. And it’s very difficult to host more than that for us in the Caribbean. So it is a serious dilemma that we’re faced with. The relevant personnel need to really sit down and have a look at it.”
The conclusion to the last ever Wisden Trophy was disappointing, given the way the West Indies played in the first Test at the Ageas Bowl. The way they capitulated on the final day, bowled out for a paltry 129 in 37.1 overs, suggested a squad tired of bio-secure bubble life and ready to head home to the Caribbean. Their tour has spanned for 50 days, in which they have majorly been confined to two Cricket grounds and with less freedom than the general public has been given after lockdown restrictions eased a few weeks ago.
About the experience of the tour, Holder said, “It has been challenging. It has been really challenging.I think mentally some of the guys are worn out. We have been here four weeks prior to the first Test, then we had a change of environment which we really enjoyed. But then to come back here to Manchester to see the same people, same place, same rooms – it was a bit difficult. It could be this way for a while so we have to find ways to make it work. Hopefully things can ease up throughout the world and hopefully guys can get out of the hotel a bit more. But it has been challenging mentally for sure.”
Expressing his gratitude towards the West Indies side for touring their country amidst the tough times, England captain, Joe Root said, “First and foremost it’s been a fantastic effort from West Indies to come over, in such unprecedented times to come and give the world international cricket again and for cricket lovers to watch and enjoy the sport. We’re all extremely grateful. Unfortunately our guys will hit the M6 tonight so there won’t be a social distant beer but they’ve played good cricket, Jason is a fine captain with some very good players. We wish them a safe flight home and all the best for the future.”