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Cricket news - Hetmyer, Bravo, Paul pulling out of England Tests "unfortunate", feels Michael Holding

Holding was left disappointed with Darren Bravo opting out of the tour.

Holding was left disappointed with Darren Bravo opting out of the tour.

Michael Holding - the West Indian quick turned commentator - has called the decision of Shimron Hetmyer, Darren Bravo and Keemo Paul to pull out of the Test tour to England "unfortunate" but not something he'll "blame them for".

Given the Covid-19 pandemic and the health scare around that, Cricket West Indies (CWI) had left the decision to the players to opt out of the tour if they weren't comfortable with the safety measures provided.

Speaking in an interview for his own Youtube channel, the 66-year-old said, "The West Indies board, before they were even confirming the tour, had told everyone and the entire public that they would not be forcing anyone to go on this tour. If any player decided they weren't absolutely sure about going on tour, they weren't confident of proceedings they could opt out. And these three guys have opted out.

"I think it's unfortunate as far as West Indies cricket is concerned. I'm not going to tell anyone that they should be going to England because Covid-19 is around, someone may get sick or even worse. But at the same time I think it's unfortunate for the West Indies team because these guys have quite a bit of talent, and they'll be missed."

It is Bravo's absence that Holding is most disappointed about, having only recently been drafted back into the international fold after a two-year-long dispute with the board. Moreover, along with Heymer, he'd been a key member of that Test side that beat the touring English 2-1 in 2019.

"I'm sorry that Bravo, in particular, isn't going because Bravo, I think, needs to resuscitate his career," Holding said. "He started off so brilliantly, everybody thought he was going to be another great West Indian batsman. He hasn't really fulfilled that. I think the more cricket he can play now, especially for the West Indies, the better chance he has of getting back on track and showing everyone the great player that he could be.

"Hetmyer, again, I think he's a very, very talented player. I think people have heard me talk about him in the past. Again, I'm sorry that he's not going so that he can get more opportunity to express himself. But I ain't blaming them for not going."

A regular in the Sky Sports broadcast box, Holding confirmed that he'd be travelling to the UK as a part of his TV punditry role. He's also happy at the prospect of the resumption of international cricket after a near four-month-long gap. "It's some sort of a start. The England and Wales Cricket Board has worked hard for it."

But how different would his job behind the microphone become given that the biosecure environments would now mean no spectators in the stands? "It will be a completely different experience as under normal circumstances, the camera moves away to the crowd to catch their reaction after a great catch or a fine knock by a batsman. We would be normally silent during those situations. However, with no fans in the stands this time, I think we will have to talk more," he added with a smug smile.

The West Indies are set to arrive in the UK on Tuesday (June 9) and will travel to Manchester for quarantining and training, which will be their base for 21 days. Southampton is set to host the first Test from July 8 before the action moves back to Manchester for the next two Tests.

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