England v West Indies: Captain Holder calls on players to stay focussed on Lord's challenge

West Indies will begin a 'momentous' match at Lord's with thoughts inevitably extended to compatriots affected by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.

West Indies captain Jason Holder during the nets session at Lord's on Wednesday. Picture: John Walton/PA

Captain Jason Holder is respectful of those worrying circumstances back home across the Atlantic but is urging his team to remain “professional” in the decisive third Investec Test against England.

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Holder’s men have an unexpected chance to achieve a historical shift at the home of cricket as they seek a first Test series success in this country since 1988 for the once mighty West Indies.

Events 4,000 miles away are life-threatening, with the islands of Antigua and Jamaica among those in the path of the fiercest recorded Caribbean storm.

Initial reports were reassuring, however, and Holder said: “Luckily I think it’s passed Antigua and those islands going up, and hasn’t really affected them that badly so far.

“But it’s obviously still going, and heading towards some other islands up the northern chain.

“We just urge (people there) to stay safe, take all the necessary precautions – and as much as we can do is pray for them as well.”

West Indies' players practice during their nets session at Lord's on Wednesday. Picture: John Walton/PA

As for his team-mates at Lord’s, he added: “We know what’s happening back home.

“(But) we’ve got to be professional.”

It will be a famous achievement if the West Indies do prevail 2-1 on the back of their shock five-wicket win at Headingley last week.

“It’s obviously a momentous game for everybody – especially in our group,” said Holder.

West Indies' players practice during their nets session at Lord's on Wednesday. Picture: John Walton/PA

“A number of us are playing our first Test match here at Lord’s, our first series in England. There’s a lot to play for, and our guys are really up for it.

“It would be great to win the series in England, but we can’t focus on the end result.”

Instead, they will stick to the approach which served them so well as they bounced back in Leeds from their first-Test trouncing at Edgbaston.

“I spoke about consistency a lot on this tour, and that’s the main objective for me,” said the captain. “We’re a close-knit unit.

“We’ve been building a great camaraderie in the dressing room ... players are happy for each other’s success. But the success has come from everyone buying into the team plans, and on this tour we’ve been doing a hell of a job.”

Holder’s opposite number Joe Root, meanwhile, is confident Chris Woakes will “come back strong” after he was replaced by Toby Roland-Jones.

Root pointed to Middlesex bowler Roland-Jones’ knowledge of the playing surface at his home ground for the decisio.

“Home conditions, he (Roland-Jones) obviously knows the surfaces and is bowling very well at the moment,” said Root.

“It’s obviously very difficult to leave somebody like Chris out, he’s been a consistent performer in Test cricket for England in recent times.

“But this is a team I think is going to win this week.

“There’s plenty of cricket to be played throughout the rest of this summer and he’s a fantastic performer across all formats.

“I fully expect him to come back strong.”

Root also gave his backing to Essex batsman Tom Westley, who has scored just 19 runs in three innings in the series starting at 
No 3.

Root added: “You speak as a batting group and as a team and you have conversations in the dressing room all the time and you want to make sure you are helping out where and when you can.

“Ultimately no one knows Tom’s game like he does.

“He’s a smart young man and he’ll be desperate to prove a point and put some big runs on the board this week.”