In the latest ICC Rankings released on 14th July, Jason Holder has climbed up to the second spot among bowlers after his stellar display in a famous win over England in the first Test between the two nations.
Holder has 862 rating points, the highest for a Caribbean bowler since Courtney Walsh reached 866 points two decades ago. Yet, not many will compare the unassuming West Indies skipper with the legendary pacer.
That has been both Holder’s boon and bane since he came into the limelight as the captain of a cricket team burdened by the titanic achievements of past teams and by their own difficult transition.
Often, as Holder’s Test team went down in yet another Test series, he seemed a Sisyphus-like figure, destined to persist with his thankless task despite the inexorability of failure.
Yet, as the famous French author Albert Camus said, “one must imagine Sisyphus to be happy.” And Jason Holder is definitely in a happier place after years of toil with his charges finally beginning to buck the trend.
Lest we forget, Holder’s team came into the Wisden Trophy as holders, having upset the English by a 2-1 margin back home when the two sides last met in Tests.
We must also not overlook the fact that the 28-year-old is just behind two other legends, Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards, for Test wins, yet one will not dare compare the former with the two behemoths of Windies cricket.
Granted, Holder’s 11 wins have come from 33 Tests and many of these triumphs have come against the so-called emerging Test nation, and is now tied with Richie Richardson for the number of wins as the Windies captain.
Again, he has bypassed another legend in Brian Lara in reaching the milestone.
That is his millstone to carry. For Jason Holder, as a cricketer, will never reach the heights of a Joe Root in terms of numbers, or exude the brilliance of a Virat Kohli, both in the running for positions in the the all-time great lists. Sachin Tendulkar and Lara, in fact, duly acknowledged that Holder is underrated in his preview of the first Test.
They couldn’t have been more correct. Jason Holder has never really been given his due as a player.
Handed the captaincy of a mediocre team at a very young age, Holder is also at the summit of the ICC rankings for all-rounders.
Indeed, he is the only genuine all-rounder who captains a Test team right now. Holder is the youngest ever captain for the Caribbeans and the second youngest Test skipper of the team that represents the island nations.
In 41 Tests he has scored 1917 runs at an average of 32.5 with three hundreds including a double and taken 113 wickets at 25.5.
The Barbadian also took the Windies to the quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup before losing to eventual finalists New Zealand. He has played more than 150 international matches for the Windies. These achievements are often overlooked.
His credentials have been overshadowed because the ghosts of their illustrious past will never stop haunting. Not that the Barbadian seems to care.
Miles to go
Perspective and context, however, are essential. Jason Holder’s boys are still a long way away from proving that a turnaround is underway.
They are still 7th out of 9 teams in the ICC World Test Championship standings and 8th out of 10 in the Test rankings. They need to sustain the unlikely momentum generated from the Southampton win and prove that it was no flash in the pan.
Jason Holder is not leading his best team in this series as well with Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo opting not to come to England for this crucial series.
He will still have that smile on his face and that never-say-die spirit though, when he his team takes the field in Manchester today in a Test that could play a huge role in establishing their resurgence under a talented leader with an eternally difficult task on hand.