Incorporating social distancing into cricket is going to take some adjusting to for Jason Holder after the West Indies captain and his counterpart Ben Stokes got off to a rocky start before a ball had even been bowled in Southampton.
Coming together for the toss in the middle of the Ageas Bowl, Stokes started his England captaincy debut on the right note as the coin fell his way.
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He turned to Holder and tried to offer up an elbow bump because handshakes aren’t allowed in this age of COVID-19.
But being so used to routine, Holder went for the handshake and ended up wrapping his fingers around Stokes’ wrist.
Both skippers burst out laughing — as did the commentary crew, who were calling the action from the stands.
“You can’t do that, Ben! Social distancing and all that,” Sky Sports’ Ian Ward laughed. “Never mind, sanitise those hands.”
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Standing in for usual captain Joe Root, who is missing the Test for the birth of his second child, Stokes chose to bat after winning the toss as England dropped David Warner’s Ashes tormentor Stuart Broad from the starting side.
Chris Woakes was also left out as the hosts opted to play Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood as part of their pace battery, with all-rounder Stokes to provide medium-pace support and Dom Bess the spinner.
“A very, very tough decision with Broady and Woakesy as well,” Stokes said. “But we feel with Woody and Jofra’s pace it adds another dimension to the options we can have.
“Obviously there was a lot of disappointment around with this being the first game back in a while but the two lads missing out took it like absolute champions and understood the reasons.
“It was very tough but as I said Stuart took it like an absolute champion and to be fair he wished me all the best. It’s a big day for me and we’re quite close off the field so it was nice to hear.”
Rain delayed the start of play and arrived again just three overs in to send the players back to the pavilion with England in trouble at 1/1 after Shannon Gabriel bowled Dom Sibley for a duck.
Players and support staff from both teams took a knee before the first ball as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Those who weren’t on the field knelt beside the boundary rope, and some raised their fists.
The show of solidarity came after commentators Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent delivered powerful anti-racism speeches as part of Sky’s pre-match broadcast.
Both teams supported the Black Lives Matter movement.Source: Getty Images