When the No 3 Test team in the world is dumped on its head twice in a row by the eighth-ranked side, it’s clear that the leader and their strategy have had a massive impact on the team’s performance.
Writing on Cricinfo, Ian Bishop, the 51-year-old former West Indies paceman, highlighted the fact that the West Indies’ feat in winning the first Test by 381 runs ‘was brilliant, given that England had come into this series on the back of a successful trip to Sri Lanka, preceded by an impressive summer where they had beaten India 4-1 at home. Also, do remember, West Indies did not exactly have a good 2018: they lost in India and Bangladesh in an away series; and, while they did win at home against Bangladesh, they drew with Sri Lanka.’
Holder’s double century (batting at number eight) was clearly the difference-maker in the first Test, and was an inspired piece of leadership and batsmanship that set the tone and inspired his side to believe in themselves.
‘That the team managed to keep their head high was partly because of the belief and commitment of their captain. I had the great opportunity to speak to Jason after the second Test in Antigua. He spoke passionately about the importance of gleaning information from former greats like Desmond Haynes and Brian Lara, and a couple of other prominent names,’ wrote Bishop. ‘Jason is tall in stature physically, but he is such a level-headed guy. During the 2018 CPL I recall former Australia player Mel Jones asking Jason whether he believes in fighting “fire with fire” to motivate his players. Jason calmly responded: “No, I fight fire with water.”
‘That sums up Jason’s man-management skills, which are quite impressive. Tactically Jason is still developing and will only get better. These qualities have helped Jason to keep the Test group intact. Jason has exuded integrity, and to me, when a leader has that characteristic, it is easy to follow him.
‘Jason is able to speak to his players with a level-headedness where he is not too high after a win, and he is not too low after a loss. Of course Jason gets excited, but he does not go overboard. Players see that and it helps to win their trust.’
Bishop also highlighted consistency of selection as a major factor in the success of the West Indies against England.
‘The selectors have shown some trust and some faith to keep them together when, at times, performance didn’t live up to what had been expected. The selectors have kept the nucleus together, guys who know and understand each other. So I think the selectors need to be given some credit,’ he added.
The final Test of the series starts on Saturday in St Lucia, but the West Indies will be without Holder, as he is serving a one-match ban from the ICC relating to slow over rates.
Read Bishop’s full column here.
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