England in the Caribbean – 26th January 2019

Jason Holder has enjoyed a few ups in his four years as captain of the West Indies but endured a great deal more downs. The leadership was thrust upon him as a 23-year-old and it came with at least three years of relentless back-biting and sniping. He wasn’t even worth his place in the team, people said, never mind as captain.

He endured it all. He admitted recently that he had not only considered but wanted to give it up on several occasions. Every time things stared to turn around, there was another setback. They were thrashed by Bangladesh at the end of last year and the people laughed. West Indies were a laughing stock, they said. But Holder and coach Stuart Law, before he left to become director of cricket at Middlesex, believed in the future.

The 27-year-old was humble, eloquent and modest when asked whether he was enjoying the extraordinary dominance over England in this Test match: “The game has a way of sorting everyone out – I’m just happy that we have played well, the bowlers have set everything up by bowling England our for a low score and that the batsmen have responded well, too,” he said.

Holder and Shane Dowrich were arch-rivals at school but became the closest of friends well before they left and became professional cricketers. For every run of their 295-run 7th wicket partnership, the third highest of all time, they were clearly a partnership in every sense, constantly looking out for each other and, delightfully, tapping bats after boundaries and landmarks rather than glove-punching.

“We have to accept that we have been completely outplayed and give credit to the West Indies with bat and ball,” admitted Jos Buttler who was given the task of facing the media. “Being bowled out for 77 hurt all of us very much and it’s up to us now to take responsibility and try to put it right – you never know what’s possible although obviously we are right up against it.”

England’s supporters, it appears, sense a conspiracy. At two Barmy Army functions with former players they vented their frustration that the home side had neither enforced the follow-on nor declared earlier. Rumours were spreading amongst their ranks that either the WICB or even the President of Barbados had manufactured a situation in which the game might be stretched into a fifth day.  It is a peculiar gripe given their commitment to a five-day match and spending money…It might be that England supporters would simply prefer their team to lose quickly if they are going to lose at all.


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