Without a doubt, Jason Holder is one of the best cricketers in the world right now…….
“Our consistency is something that has really plagued us in the past, particularly, with our batting. Our batting has probably let us down on a few occasions. I just think we need to start the series well by putting some runs on the board in the first innings and making an early statement”.
“England obviously have a quality bowling attack, but we’ve seen glimpses of what we can do against this attack. We obviously had a really good time at Headingley and fought back well in that series. And then last time in the Caribbean we did really well to fight back here in Barbados”.
“We definitely know we can perform against this attack. It’s just a case of being consistent and sticking to our game plans for long periods”.
That’s what Jason Holder said before the start of the first Test at Bridgetown Barbados. In the first innings, the West Indian batting exhibited grit, but, as usual, a collapse showed-up yet again and the same was evident in the second. England bowlers ran all guns blazing and left West Indies reeling at 61 for 5. Shimron Hetmyer did the repair but his stay was also cut short. It seems, achieving consistency in batting is pretty tough for West Indies.
Holder decided to prove his words into deeds.
The tall and strongly built Bajan made the third day all his own by leading from the front.
West Indies started the day with the overnight score of 127 for 6. The lead was 339 and with 4 wickets in hand, Holder wanted to stretch the lead a bit more and establish the total command of his team. Moreover, he has to prove, West Indies can bat with authority and can be consistent.
Also read: West Indian devastation at Barbados
It won’t be easy against such a brilliant English attack. The morning session was testing as the English bowlers kept things tight. Holder was tested outside off more often, while at times, the uneven bounce challenged the defence. It required resolve and obviously, solid support from another end, which Sane Dowrich provided Holder throughout the day.
“I found it very challenging up front. Jimmy and Stokesy made us play a lot of deliveries in the channel, particularly Stokes with his angle and getting the ball to leave. He was a threat all day and credit to him, he made us work hard for our runs, but it was a really pleasing day, to bat up past tea and form the partnership that we did,” Holder said.
Batting in Test cricket requires the best exhibition of technique and temperament. Especially, temperamentally one needs to be at his pristine best, when he is facing bowlers like James Anderson and Ben Stokes. Patience plays a big role in handling such tough bowlers and Holder decided to spend time at the crease and play the ball according to the merit. He gave enough time to settle at the crease and as the day progressed, the vim of English bowlers sapped away.
Their length dragged from full to shorter, as Cricviz stated, “England have adopted notably different tactics in their second bowling innings, pitching 26% full compared to 35% in the first innings and instead bowling 39% short compared to 26% first time around. This is probably a reaction to the Windies success with short lengths”.
The West Indian fast bowlers might have succeeded with short-pitch bowling, but England failed to produce results as they lacked the pace and hit-the-deck abilities. Holder and Dowrich could fetch runs with ease though midwicket and square leg region.
After one and half hours of play, there came a phase, when Holder started to flex his muscles. He batted in a manner as if none could dismiss him on Day 3 and ultimately anyone couldn’t. He targeted the spinners to score heavily. Moeen Ali was smacked for three consecutive boundaries, while a Sam Curran outswinger was dispatched for six at long-off. Then Joe Root’s part-time spin-bowling received some harsh treatment as Holder smacked him for a six to bring up his hundred off 99 balls.
As Cricviz said, “When Jason Holder has attacked in this innings he has done so with stunning effectiveness. He has played 24 attacking shots and scored 57 runs from them, not missing or edging a single shot & making a ‘good’ connection with nine of them”.
The much polite innings, not so long ago, had become quite entertaining and record-riddled. Holder pulled Curran towards midwicket for a boundary to bring up his 150 and it was only the fourth time that a number 8 batsman had reached 150 in Test cricket. Holder won’t stop. Stokes was hit out of the park, Ali continued to receive rough treatment, Rashid went out of ideas and Anderson could do nothing, but watch the hapless status of his bowling unit.
Jason Holder has scored all round the ground in his century, but in particular he has peppered the mid-wicket boundary with two fours and two sixes in that region, as well as two sixes over long on. #WIvENG pic.twitter.com/OrhBd4jK73
— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) January 25, 2019
A cracking boundary off Keaton Jennings brought up Holder’s maiden double ton. It was a moment to relish. He has proved, West Indies can bat with intent in Test matches. As the captain, it was up to him to show others how it was done. As the captain, it was his duty to lead from the front. So far, Holder has been performing his captainship duties with a great responsibility – be it with the bat or ball, Holder is equally effective as Cricviz suggests, “Since the start of 2018 Jason Holder averages 39.90 with the bat and 12.11 with the ball in Test cricket. The only player who can challenge him for all-round contribution is Ravi Jadeja”.
Jason Holder is the recipient of Lord Gavron award in 2009 and in 2010 he toured New Zealand for the ICC Under-19 World Cup. His steady medium-pace bowling caught everyone’s attention. Nevertheless, he was a steady batsman as well. But above all, he was someone humble, mature and enough level-headed at such a young age. He was the replacement of Tino Best in 2011 when West Indies toured Bangladesh and two years later, he would make his international debut. The next year, he would discover himself as the skipper of West Indies.
Now, that is one hell of a story!
He was dubbed a failure at first hand, except few people like Clive Lloyd, Sir Vivian Richards and Brian Lara; who invested faith in his abilities. Holder has not let his well-wishers down.
Since his appointment as the Test and ODI skipper at a very young age during a crisis period in West Indies cricket, Holder has just improved day by day. From an unknown figure in West Indies cricket, Holder has now become one of the most impactful cricketers in West Indies. Among the giants of West Indies cricket four or five years ago, Holder was written off as someone mediocre and hopeless. Perhaps, those critics are eating their own words right now.