“One Test match doesn’t make a summer,” West India cricket team captain Jason Holder said, after his side’s 381-run win against England in the first Test match in Barbados. The number one all-rounder in the world conquered the field in the first match, but knows there is plenty to do still.
“We’ve got two Test matches to go and have to make sure we close out the series,” added Holder, who will be raring to have a crack at Joe Root’s men and win a rare Test series against a fancied opposition. Holder was brilliant in the first Test. The moment he walked on to the pitch with his side at 120/6 in the second innings, he wanted to to look in control.
The in-form player then went on to smash a 229-ball 202* to break a host of records in Test cricket. West Indies set a mighty 628-run target for England (their third largest ever). An improbable scenario for England beckoned with a lot of time left in the match. They ultimately folded for 246 in the final session on Day four. Windies marked one of their best wins in modern day cricket.
Who would have thought that part-time spinner Roston Chase will go on to pick eight English wickets. The positive energy flowed across the team and the collective performance downed the visitors. England were below par with their batting across both innings and they had lost the match in the second day itself, after being folded for 77.
Long time ago, Holder had impressed the Windies cricket hierarchy, who felt he was the best option to lead the side in the future and take them through the struggles. At a young age with issues surrounding Windies cricket, the skipper kept his head in the right direction and looked patience.
Holder’s attitude non argumentative nature, got him to be liked and respected by one and all. Reports had always suggested that he’s down to earth, polite and non confrontational, despite being the best talent in the Windies circuit.
One would feel that this is just the start for Windies to usher on a new journey. One should remember that they have a relatively young squad with no superstars.
Led by Holder, Windies produce a masterclass
This was a performance by the side which saw everyone chip in. All the eleven members of the side came strong in one way or the other. There was hunger and determination in the eyes of the players and Holder deserves credit for keeping things in control.
Be it the young Shimron Hetmyer’s 81 in the first innings, or the energy of fast bowler Kemar Roach (5/17) who helped decimate England for 77. In the second innings there were worries for the hosts with pile of wickets tumbling in Barbados. But wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich went on to improve his record against England with 116*. And then Chase had the final say.
Through all this, it was the performance of the skipper who recorded a maiden double hundred (202 not out), besides some smart moves in the field. His modest economy-rate of 1.88 and 2.00 across both the innings made this a perfect show by the all-rounder.
Holder hoped it is just the beginning for his side to really show their strengths. “I think we ticked a few boxes in this Test match. It’s about turning up in Antigua and doing the same,” said Holder in the post-match presentation.
The journey of Holder since 2014
Many established players back then left the national set-up and went on to choose the global T20 leagues instead. That was a way out to earn some money through their enormous talent. Till date, the WI board has found itself reeling with controversies.
Now with everything happening around him, Holder kept his mind settled. He instead asked the players at his disposal to give their all and keep learning. There were many shabby performances in the longest format especially over the years, but finally Windies have a team that is looking to settle down.
Holder has had his share of difficult times. West Indies are eighth in the ICC Test Rankings and had to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019 through the qualifiers. Performances on tours to India and Bangladesh were dismal. The young and talented squad at his disposal lacked the cutting edge and the consistency has been lacking.
But here is a man that has fought every part of this phase and kept his focus.
Holder has been influential since quite sometime
The Windies skipper was part of the ICC Test Team of the Year (2018) for his stupendous show. He was chosen as the side’s all-rounder. The only Windies player to feature in the XI. In six matches, Holder took 33 wickets in 2018. What was notable was that he had four five-wicket hauls and an economy-rate of 2.77. He also scored a decent 336 runs during this phase.
He has started 2019 with a bang. A double ton and two wickets from one Test has got him the desired push. What this performance will do is that it will help Holder build on from here on. He will now want to give a better account of himself on a regular basis with the bat. Runs from his bat could win his side matches and Barbados was a testament of the same.
Holder’s bowling has developed considerably over time. The maturity has come with time. Early on, he was considered as someone with medium pace, who could keep things tight. But all that has changed. The way he set up Joe Root was pleasing to the eye. He kept bowling deliveries away from Root and then bang. One ball comes in and gets Root striking him dead in front of his pads. There was a plan.
The latest rankings sees him rise to number one in the world among all-rounders. He has mostly been known as a bowling all-rounder, but he massively enhanced his batting reputation this time around.
A performance that shattered many records
Holder became the third player in Test cricket to score a double century batting at number eight. His 229-ball 202* is now the second fastest Test double century against England. Former New Zealand batsman Nathan Astle (153 balls) holds the record for the fastest double ton against the En
The Windies captain also hit the most number of sixes in an innings, among batsmen from his side, against England (8). The 295-run stand between Holder and Dowrich is the third highest partnership in Tests for the seventh wicket.
The two cricketers have a great amount of understanding between themselves. Off the field they share a great camarederie as well. The two players are only second pair in Test cricket to be involved in hundred-run partnerships for the sixth, seventh and eighth wickets. This is mighty batting down the order. Holder’s double century is also the highest individual score by a number eight Windies batsman.