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Exclusive with Chemar Holder: Young fast bowler eager to learn tricks in the T20 trade

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Chemar Holder is one of the most thrown around names in West Indies cricket these days when discussing up and coming fast bowlers. A last-ditch replacement bowler in the under-19 World Cup in 2016, Holder left the tournament in Bangladesh with his name etched into the memories of fans and critics. He has been with the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in their run to the finals of the CPL 2020. CricXtasy caught up with him in an exclusive conversation ahead of the finals of the tournament.

Excerpts from interview with Chemar Holder:

The Zouks have had an impressive run in CPL 2020. You haven’t got too many opportunities though. Were you hoping to be in the XI more often?

Looking at it game by game, if selected to play, I was ready to put my best foot forward. So I have tried to not think too much about not being in the starting XI. I have played only three games and I am aware of that, but I am not too worried about it. It’s a learning curve for me and I have been working on my game.

Do you think the pitches played a role in the minimal chances you have had in CPL 2020?

Coming back to Trinidad, playing at Tarouba, the pitches aren’t really the best, it’s kind of tacky. So it’s kind of tough to play on these wickets, especially for seamers. You can see that in the totals and scores and other stats. So it perhaps played a part, but as I said, I am not sitting and sweating over it.

What’s been your focus in training during this campaign in CPL 2020?

Working hard on my T20 game. I have been preparing more for longer formats. So, I have been trying to open up my options and learn a few more deliveries, improve my T20 game by developing secondary skills.

Chemar Holder in CPL 2020

                                                            Chemar Holder in CPL 2020 vs Trinbago Knight Riders

You were impressive in the u19 WC and for West Indies A. But you haven’t played too many T20s. Which format do you see yourself making it big in?

Always Test and fifty-overs cricket.

They test my skills and I kind of like and prefer that over T20 cricket. That said, I am not neglecting the format in any way.

I am really looking forwarding to playing in other leagues too, experiencing the different conditions and cultures. I am actually working on my T20 game and hopefully when it happens it will add to my skillsets. 

How has the experience been in CPL 2020? The Zouks have experienced T20 stars like Nabi and Sammy and a fantastic head coach in Andy Flower. What has the interaction been like with them?

First, it’s a whole different setup to Barbados where I was at for two years. The atmosphere at St Lucia is completely different. I believe it will be different if things were normal. Even though we are in lockdown, everything seems great, talking and interacting with each other has been fun. Andy Flower has been helpful. We sat down and talked after a few games. Nabi, Fletcher and Sammy have also been really helpful in giving small tips.

Any particular conversation with a senior player that has stood out for you and helped you massively?

Nabi gave me a feedback after the game against Guyana where I didn’t bowl that well. Those things actually help; to have someone come in and tell you that these days happen and not ponder over it too much and move on. I was glad Nabi did that after that performance. He pointed out a few things and I went back and reflected on it.

Chemar Holder

                                                                           Chemar Holder in CPL 2020

What do you keep telling yourself when bowling?

To remain calm and not think too much things. Just keep it simple. That’s really the only thing I tell myself.

Do you see yourself playing in a league like the IPL in the future? How do you see the success of young pacers like Jofra Archer, Kagiso Rabada, West Indies’ own Alzarri Joseph etc? How do you think you can stand out?

Yeah, I am working on my T20 game as I said. I want to ensure to that I am not one-dimensional when I do go in and play in other leagues. I think developing my skills is priority and I have been doing that. Once I am ready, I am sure there will be opportunities in the IPL.

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I have played with Alzarri [Joseph] and a few other seamers. We put it in a lot of work behind the scenes in the last few months. Fast bowlers around the globe are performing well and there are lot of pacers coming through in the Caribbean. It is hard to stand out. But if you put in that extra yard in practice, I am sure it will work out. That extra hour after regular nets or an extra set in fitness training could go a long way in helping me in the future. That’s what I have been doing.