With experience, things starting to fall into place for Holder

The Test season in the West Indies concluded on Saturday (July 14) after the hosts completed a 166-run rout over Bangladesh at Sabina Park in Jamaica headlined by skipper Jason Holder’s Man of the Match performance. Holder returned 11 wickets for the game, adding to his tally of five wickets from the first game, to also be named the Man of the Series, leading from the front as a ruthless Windies clinched the two-match series 2-0 over the disappointing tourists.

“I just think it’s coming together for me now,” Holder said after the game. “I’m probably 30-odd Test matches into my Test career, and I’ve always remembered Clive Lloyd saying that he learned to play Test cricket after three years.

“It took him three years to understand the Test game, and it’s good to see the selectors have given this group [of players] some confidence in terms of sticking with them. I guess I’m now getting into my own in terms of my cricket at the international level, I felt the skill level was always there. It’s just a matter of putting it together.”

Since the beginning of 2018, in the five Tests that Windies have played, Holder has returned 28 wickets at an average of 12 with three five-wicket hauls. Living up to his repute of an all-rounder, he has also chipped in with the bat, having scored 265 runs at 37.85. Holder, however, admitted to have been the beneficiary of conditions that assisted his bowling.

“Quite frankly, I think the surfaces obviously helped me in terms of my movement and conditions were in my favour pretty much in terms of this home series. I would say things are really coming together for me, both with bat and ball. I still would like to be a little bit more consistent in terms of getting a few more scores, but batting down at No. 8 and 9, for me, it’s quite difficult to really post a healthy score unless you’re batting with the last recognised batsman, but we weren’t able to get that partnership that we were looking for in the end.

“That’s my ultimate goal, to be in the allrounder’s position and be seen as a genuine allrounder. Hopefully with my performances, the selectors will see and push me up.”

The end result of the second Test though doesn’t paint an accurate picture of Windies’ perceived dominance. Although they did end up with a comfortable win in the end thanks to Holder’s six-wicket haul in the second innings, he called out to his batsmen to step up, after having been bowled out for 129 in the second innings in Jamaica, especially against spin keeping in mind Windies’ upcoming tours of India and Bangladesh later in the year.

“I just think we need to understand our games a little bit more, work on a few more scoring options to expand our game, especially when the slower bowlers come on,” he said. “It’s probably been a problem that’s plagued West Indies cricket in the last seven to ten years in terms of how we’ve played slower bowling.

“The wicket did assist their spinners up front and they’re heavily reliant on their spinners as well, so we’ve got to find a way to negotiate their spinners on tough tracks. Maybe a bit more sweeping, maybe a bit more improvising in terms of throwing them off their line and length. I think that’s something we really need to pay attention to, especially going down to the subcontinent in the latter half of the year.”

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