West Indies captain Jason Holder admitted ahead of the 1st Test against England that even though he is on top of the ICC Test all rounder’s rankings, Ben Stokes is the one who dominates this list.
In a conversation with ESPNCricinfo, Holder said, “I don’t really like to get into these personal accolades or ICC rankings. Ben has always been talked up and quite rightfully so, he’s a really good cricketer, but the ICC rankings say that I’m the No. 1 ranked allrounder and maybe don’t get as much credit as probably I deserve, who knows? I don’t get caught up with it to be honest. Journalists are there to write their stories, I am merely here to play cricket. It’s always a good battle on the field when you face competitors like Stokesy, face competitors around the world.”
The last time the two captains faced off in a Test series, it was Holder who emerged triumphant, both as player and captain. Stokes performed well in defeat, averaging 37.20 with the bat and 22.80 with the ball, Holder made a defining contribution, thanks to his maiden Test double hundred in the first Test at Bridgetown. That innings set up a 381-run win in the match and a 2-1 victory in the series, and it was Holder who got to lift the prestigious Wisden Trophy.
And while it is a significantly different looking England side to the one defeated in the Caribbean last year that Stokes will captain this week in the absence of Joe Root, who left the England camp to attend the birth of his second child, Holder was not about to offer any advice to his opposite number about leadership.
Holder continued, “I’ll give my advice to Stokesy after the series. England are in capable hands: he’s an excellent cricketer, a great competitor and I’m sure the guys in his dressing room look up to him. He’ll have experienced campaigners in his dressing room to help him along, I’m sure, so I wish him all the best in this one game as captain.”
Holder also talked about being committed on the field as a player more than as a captain, as he showed in the warm up game by batting for almost 30 deliveres, scoring 7 with a dodgy ankle. He also bowled 5 Overs in the game.
“Before captaincy I’m a player and my performances must stand out: I must perform my role for the team,” Holder said. “With bat in hand I’ve got to make runs, with ball in hand I’ve got to take wickets and in the field I’ve got to help the guys hold on to chances. Leadership will come into effect after that and when I do perform well with the bat it sends added confidence throughout the dressing room.
Holder also talked about his admiration and frequent conversations with legendary former West Indies all rounder Sir Garfield Sobers, who was the first West Indian to reach the grand double of 2,000 runs and 100 wickets. Holder, who is 102 runs away from being the third West Indian to do so, said, “I’ve had tonnes of conversations with Sir Garry. I always look up to Sir Garry, he’s one of the most positive individuals I’ve ever spoken to. He just sees things from a different light and I guess that’s why he was so great. He’s never shy of giving information or advice and he’s one of those guys that would put his arm around you and nurture the next generation.”
On the prospect of either himself or Dowrich moving up the order, Holder said he would leave it until match morning to finalise his team, but he did not rule out moving to No. 6 at some stage. Holder said, “It’s on the radar for me.I’ve had success and been consistent where I’ve been batting but no doubt at some stage I will definitely come up the order, it’s just a matter of when.”
“The beauty about the lower half contributing so heavily in the last couple of years is that we’ve got stability and depth… you go back to the series against England, Roston Chase got a century in that series as well as myself and Shane. There were still very significant contributions from the top order so generally I think we’ve got to bring it together as a squad. I know a lot has been said about the lower half contributing the bulk of the runs in the recent past but if you look at the calibre of players we’ve got. Kraigg Brathwaite has had success here in England, Shai Hope has had success here in England, Shamarh Brooks has had success in youth team cricket in England and that’s just to name a few. I’m more than confident that these guys will do well here in this series. It doesn’t only have to come from the top order. We’re putting a lot of emphasis on the top order. Yes, they probably haven’t lived up to the expectation but it’s still a team sport and we’ve just got to put runs on the board. However we get them, personally I don’t care, it’s just a matter for us to put the runs on the board and give our bowlers something to work with.”