Underrated Cricket Performer: Elite Jason Holder Shines in Windies

It is almost a misconception to call cricket a team sport, because it is individualistic in its essence. Once the game starts it becomes a personal conflict between the batsman and the bowler and the fielders act as the supporting cast.

But it is only natural that the glittering performances with several centuries or wickets in their name promote fans to stardom. Once enough time has passed, it will be Virat Kohli and Steve Smith whose names will be etched more deeply in the memory of Cricket Afikanodo.

However, there are a number of players who fly under the radar even if they play for the team. These are not exactly quick for players, although they often come under pressure with significant contributions.

In this series, we look at some of these inferior and obsolete men whose contributions deserve more recognition than they currently do. Our man in the focus below is Jason Holder of the West Indies.

Jason Holder (Test Statistics)

Age: 28

Test: 40

Run: 1898

Batting average: 32.72

Wickets: 106

Bowling average: 26,37

Hundreds of years: 3

Five wickets 6

Born in Barbados, Holder’s rise to the West Indies coincides with a lazy period of decline in Caribbean clothing.

A long bowling all-rounder in terms of business, Holder Hall has always been a promising player with potential in his school days at St Michael’s School in Bridgetown. The youngster made his first-class debut in 2009 before receiving the prestigious Lord Gavron Award for Best Young Cricketer in Barbados.

A year later, Holder represented the West Indies at the ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand and finished as the team’s top wicket-taker with 13 scallops during the campaign. His first dismissal came three years after his ODI debut at the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) in Perth, claiming the wicket of West Indies starlet Aaron Finch. In 2014, he was given a first Test cap against New Zealand at home ground in Bridgetown and claimed the wickets of Ross Taylor and James Neesham which turned out to be a loss.

Holder, the West Indies captain, became the youngest player to play in ODIs before the 2013 World Cup when he was just 23 years old. In the same year, he was given the role of captain as well as being the second youngest West Indies captain in the format.

In 2018 and in his 74th appearance in the format, this all-rounder doubled to one thousand ODI runs and 100 wickets as the fastest player in the West Indies.

Style

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Sitting in stark contrast to a great picture of a player’s soft-spoken and non-attacking approach who dwarfs the most batsmen on the cricket pitch. As bowlers, former Windies greats like Holder’s Kartley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh can’t have a burning momentum. However, whatever he lacks in speed, he does up with discipline and perseverance.

This is the same approach with the bat. He may not be the most elegant of the batsmen with beautiful strokes in his book, but despite his reputation as a bowling all-rounder, he often embarrasses the West Indies’ top order.

It is unfortunate for a player of Holder’s caliber that his peak has come at a time when West Indies cricket is casting a shadow over his earlier glorious days, especially in the Test format.

The role of captaincy at such a young age is both evidence of Holder’s leadership qualities as well as the current state of affairs in the Windies.

Asked to lead people lacking in both quality and experience, Holder has been given the hardest job in arguing in international cricket.

The fortunes of the Caribbean Test team have suffered over the past few years, yet both the holder bat and the ball have glorified themselves with several one-man shows.

He is the number one ranked ICC all-rounder in the Test format before Ben Stokes and that is why he was the only representative of the West Indies in the 2013 ICC Test XI.

The elite all-rounder is often overlooked by the cricket fraternity as a holder’s recognition of his crowning performances on what the Windies’ weakness is. Although his value is undeniable, and the West Indies man is good enough to go to any Test in the world.

Best display

103 vs England, 2015 (Antigua)

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He fought for the West Indies in the final innings to defend a draw against England in the presence of Holder’s fourth Test.

Centuries from Ian Bell and Gary Balance meant the hosts set a 437-run target in the fourth innings in Antigua. At lunch on the last day of the Test, the Windies’ writing seemed to have come down to 189-6.

Holder batted brilliantly with wicketkeeper Danesh Ramdin at No. 6 to put up a century stand. Tea reigned in England’s hopes of victory after the dismissal of James Anderson Ramdin, but was no longer obtained from any determined holder.

The West Indies were the perfect reward for a first Test tone holder for keeping the fort for a valuable draw.

110 vs. Zimbabwe, 2017 (Bulawayo)

The West Indies came into the second Test with a 1-0 lead in the two-match series against Zimbabwe and were in real danger of throwing it out completely. Hamilton Masakadza’s 147 record helped the hosts post a challenge 3232 in the first innings before the shortest fall of the Windies response.

The spectators risked the series’ advantage at 230-7, with Holder joining wicketkeeper Shane Durich at the crease. The pair added 212 runs for the eighth wicket to push the West Indies to the commanding lead. With both players scoring their respective centuries, Holder reached the triple figure for the second time in his career.

The hosts eventually won a draw after Sikandar Raja’s fighting innings.

4/19 and 5/41 vs Sri Lanka, 2018 (Bridgetown)

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On a seaming track with plenty of movement for the pacers, Holder displayed one of his best bowling with the red ball. The West Indies scored a crucial 50 in the first innings as the all-rounder claimed four innings in the first innings.

Unfortunately, after being bowled out for just 93 in the second innings, the hosts opened the door for the Lankans again. Holder gave the Windies hope by claiming five wickets, although his attempt failed after Kusal Perera and Dilruwan Perera eventually guided Sri Lanka to a four-wicket win.

Although he lost in the end, his nine-wicket match holder was enough to win the Man of the Match award.

5/44 and 6/49 vs Bangladesh, 2018 (Sabina Park)

After West Indies’ unbeaten 353 in the first innings, Holder smashed Bangladesh with a thrilling spell. Windies captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah took five wickets in the first innings for the spectators, including the big scalp.

Despite giving up a 205-run lead in the first innings, Bangladesh bounced back in the second innings with just 129 runs to spare. Holder again ruled the Supreme Court with the ball as the Tigers set the target for 335 in the final innings.

The all-rounder had a chance to decide by six wickets and Bangladesh lost the series by 166 runs to win the series for the West Indies. It remains one of only two home Test series wins for the Caribbean team under Holder’s captaincy.

202 vs England, 2019 (Bridgetown)

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A year after the West Indies’ only home series win, there has been a major setback against England. As has become commonplace, it was the Windies captain who put the fat thing on the hosts in the first Test.

Seeing James Anderson’s five-wicket record, the Windies were bowled out for 269 in the first innings at Bridgetown, before the spectators’ embarrassing fall in response. Holder took two wickets for just 77 runs in the first innings.

The West Indies were not completely out of the woods as England came back strong at 120–6 in the second innings. Walking into his traditional No. 8 position, a great holder puts them in control of the cruise with a lightning of 202 with just 229 deliveries.

He shared an unbroken 295-run stand with Durich for the eighth wicket as the English set a huge target of 6228 in Barbados. Holder played another role in the next Test to ensure a historic 1-0 series win over England, with the hosts finishing with a 361-run victory.

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