From Zero to Hero – Jason Holder’s Captaincy

Jason Holder celebrating. Source: Getty

Let’s go back to October 2014. West Indies ODI team were touring India and midway through that series, they decided to abandon it. Dwayne Bravo, the then captain, consulted with his team and all this was due to the WICB wanting to reduce the players’ salaries. DJ Bravo as he is called, never played an ODI for the West Indies again as he was sacked of the captaincy. In comes Jason Holder, the new West Indian ODI captain. Holder was given the captaincy based on the advice of the great Clive Lloyd, who was at that time the chief selector of the WICB. Holder’s introduction into the job however, was a tough one. West Indies were defeated 2-0 in the 3 Test match series in South Africa which took place in December 2014 & January 2015. Despite a 2-1 T20 series win led by the popular Darren Sammy, the West Indies suffered a comprehensive 4-1 series defeat in the ODI series. 

     With that heavy series defeat in South Africa, the West Indies entered the 2015 World cup played in New Zealand and South Africa as underdogs. Their underdog status was obvious, especially being lowly ranked for quite some time as they reached only as far as the quarter-finals. They were defeated by the home team New Zealand by a mammoth 143 runs at Wellington Regional Stadium, with Martin Guptill slamming an unbeaten 237 not out. The World of course criticized the move by the WICB back then to appoint a young man who was not even a regular member of the West Indies playing 11, despite his talent as a developing all-rounder. Things only got worse moving on as he took over the Test captaincy reigns from Denesh Ramdin, after they suffered a 2-0 Test series whitewash against Australia in the Caribbean (June 2015). Holder’s first assignment as captain was not a pleasant one, as West Indies suffered a 2-0 Test series defeat in Sri Lanka and followed it up with losing 3-0 in the ODI series.

     That series was followed by a 3 Test series tour to Australia (December 2015) where the Windies once again showed no fight nor spirit, failing with both bat and ball losing the series 2-0. If it wasn’t for rain in Sydney, it would’ve been 3-0. Thankfully it wasn’t. More “licks” came in the Caribbean against the Indians in July and August 2016, where they went down 2-0 in the 4 Test match series. Signs of a Test victory were looking bleak, and one had to wonder when would the World see a victory from this West Indies team in Test cricket?

     September to November 2016, the West Indies toured the United Arab Emirates (neutral venue) to play Pakistan. Double whitewashes against Pakistan 3-0 in both T20 and ODI series looked all too familiar. The 3 Test match series followed and after losing the first two Test matches, another Test defeat was on the cards. Then came the third Test match in Sharjah. The West Indian skipper picked up his first five-wicket haul in the true form of the game with some brilliant bowling, 5 for 30. The target was 154 runs, and achieved by Kraigg Braithwaite’s and Shane Dowrich’s 60 not out each. At last, flawless victory!

     That rare Test victory, especially overseas, was the stepping stone the West Indians somewhat needed. March to May 2017, the Pakistanis toured these islands, and despite the competitiveness, the visitors took the T20 series 3-1, ODI series 2-1 and the Test series 2-1. It could’ve been 1-1 in the Test series, if it wasn’t for Shannon Gabriel’s “slog” across the line to Yasir Shah’s leg-spin off the final ball of the penultimate over of the Test match. That Mother’s day in May 2017, I was totally lost for words watching in my living room. The fight however was shown on their tour to England in August and September 2017, where many predicted a 3-0 clean sweep loss. However, after the West Indies were embarrassed by an innings defeat in the day-night Test match at Edgbaston, they bounced back with centuries in both innings by Shai Hope at Leeds, Headingly. The first batsman to twin hundreds in a Test or first class match at the famous ground. West Indies lost the third Test at Lord’s, but proved they were not a team to be taken lightly.

     Before a ball was bowled in the first Test in Barbados, the English media boldly predicted that this West Indian team would suffer a 3-0 whitewash. Imagine that? A whitewash in their own backyard?

     In 2018 between June to August, their home Test series to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh showed clearly that the bowling attack was on the rise, led by Jason Holder. Having shared the Test series 1-1 with Sri Lanka, they dismantled Bangladesh 2-0 thanks to some grassy pitches prepared. This brought back good memories from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s with “chin-music” fierce West Indian bowling. Such a pleasure to watch in this part of the World. Ordinary performances later in 2018 to tours of India and Bangladesh humbled the West Indians, and one had to ponder if all the hard work done in the Caribbean simply dissipated?

     Before a ball was bowled in the first Test in Barbados, the English media boldly predicted that this West Indian team would suffer a 3-0 whitewash. Imagine that? A whitewash in their own backyard? The West Indians were out on a mission to prove the World wrong, and rightfully so. England were battered in Barbados (381 run loss) and Antigua (10-wicket defeat). The Wisden trophy was regained after 10 long-awaited years! Observing the body language of the players on the field during the Test series, it was evident that Jason Holder had them in a relaxed mood. Whenever a wicket fell or a milestone achieved by a batsman, there was that typical Calypso Caribbean celebration. That’s what the World needs to see more of.

     A West Indies team that is winning is a happy team, and we all know that winning is a habit. Holder rallied his troops brilliantly, and made several bowling changes that worked in his team’s favor whenever a wicket was needed. The team gelled brilliantly and the results were evident in terms of the margin of victories. One has to say Jason Holder has learnt how to use the Decision Review System (DRS) smartly, unlike his opposing captain Joe Root, who used it blindly and with little success I must say. In the past, Holder would’ve used the DRS more out of desperation rather than logic. The saying goes, desperate times called for desperate measures.

     The selectors stuck with him in the last four years as captain in both Test and ODI formats, and it’s definitely paying off in the Test version at least. With the five One-day internationals on the way, let’s hope the Windies transfer their confidence into white-ball cricket. In the last two years, the West Indies have only won 11 of their last 40 ODI matches, with 17 ODI series going against them. One has to be optimistic with the likes of Chris Gayle a.k.a. “Universe Boss”, Darren Bravo and the debutant Nicholas Pooran in the ODI mix can boost the inconsistent batting that we have seen in recent times. Once the West Indies play to their true potential, no doubt they can upset the number one ranked side England. We shall see indeed!


86 thoughts on “From Zero to Hero – Jason Holder’s Captaincy”

  1. West indies haven’t been any better off under Jason holder compared with any of the other recent captains. Reading this article is mostly you quoting that West indies lost most of their matches. Loss to India, Bangladesh etc.
    I know you is a die hard fan of West indies cricket but it’s a loosing battle vouching for them…winning one series in the last how ever long.
    And then now all these long articles like if west indies is the hottest thing since slice bread after beating England.

    Jason holder could never be seen as a hero because west indies is not a force to be reckoned with. They not in the top 3 teams or top 5 or even top 7 out of the 10 test teams so don’t agree with this article

    On a personal level ….he is doing well and congrats to him.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Sterling. West Indies lost to an Indian side that basically never loses series at home in recent years. Also we all know West Indies is not a highly ranked side so by them losing in India was no surprise. Jason Holder was not in Bangladesh because he was injured. Had he played, who knows what could’ve happened. West Indies beating England in the test series was a huge deal due to many cricket pundits predicting England would’ve won it easily. In the end they got embarrassed. Consistent victories in all forms of the game shall determine if the West Indies climb the ladder.

  2. West Indies has the potential to bring back great cricket, but the focus has to be there. It does have talent and flair, but consistency is lacking.

    It showed in the last Test Series. They could have gone for the White-Wash at home and would have been a major boost for the Caribbean side (it has been a while since I had heard of the West Indies White-Washing any team). However, England winning the final test showed that the boys decided that was enough and not go for domination. If they were winning a lot of test Series’ then they could have afforded the occasional mercy.

    Then in the 1st ODI, they made a mammoth score (360/8 in 50 overs) and could have been easily defended…but England wanted the win more and dominated the bowlers, making 361/4 with 8 balls to spare), helped by sloppy Fielding and bowling. This showed that the boys were not doing their homework and just assumed that once you make more than 300 runs, the game would be yours.

    However, all is not lost. The next game they made 290 in the 50 overs and West Indies (finally doing their homework and extra lessons) convincingly defended the score by 28 runs. Why in less runs they were able to keep England at Bay, but a higher score they had trouble?

    I do love the West Indies (despite the nay-sayers) but they need to (and can) step up their game. The best boys must come out now and show the world that they are taking back the #1 spot in Tests. oDIs and T20’s.

    Rally Round the West Indies!!!!

    1. Indeed Julio. West Indies have the talent but they need to be switched on at all times. It was a great comeback victory in the 2nd ODI vs England. Had they not dropped 5 catches in the 1st ODI, I have no doubt they would’ve won it. Consistency is the key for any young team and we all know winning becomes a habit. Thanks for your comments.

  3. In my opinion there is a thin line between knowing the history of West Indies cricket and the present reality of West Indies performance. You only look at history and are handicap about knowing West Indies present performance. You treat each victory like an artificial scientific formula. Remember you cannot look at the very few victories West Indies gain but rather the performance in the field on a whole and their consistency.

    The reality is West Indies are presently from “ZERO TO NOTHING” it is too early to decide whether Holder’s captaincy will lead his premature horses to consistent victory. Your Article is misleading and is in danger of being manifestly unreliable. You stated in the Article that Holder’s Captaincy led WI from Zero to Hero and later admitted with your usual historical statistics that in the last two years West Indies won only 11 out of their last 40 matches. You were too embarrassed and ashamed to give your statistics for test matches. But I assure you will rely on the “once in a decade” victory they earned recently although they were crippled in the final test. You did not reveal the interrogation West Indies experienced in the 1st ODI in Barbados where Nurse was nursing his slippery hands and feet as he guided infant catches into singles and fours.

    Moving away from history and formulas in the interim. Look at Chris Gayle’s century with the number of reflex action sixes as opposed to the couple of centuries the Englishmen decently earned through skilled performance.

    So kindly recheck your formula and reshape it into (CO + A = CS) Critical Observation + Analysis = Common Sense when preparing your comprehensive Articles.

    1. Mr Joseph, I see you are really tough on the Windies. Just very recently the coach of England said that Windies have improved in the last 18 months or so. Their most consistent form of the game is test cricket in terms of victories as we know statistics don’t lie. In my opinion, your statement of “zero to nothing “ is somewhat unfair but you are entitled to your opinion ofcourse. As it stands the current ODI series is locked at 1 – 1 as Windies fought back from almost losing the 2nd ODI to winning it. Well done to them. Thanks for your honest thoughts and comments.

  4. I agree with Martin.
    Holder ain’t reach no where with West Indies cricket.
    That article you could have said for Darren Sammy. In my opinion over the last two decades he is the only captain that actually won some thing twice.
    This goes back to my other comments in the other article where West Indies in test cricket do not have such a large pool to choose from when it comes to international players…but for t20 under Sammy they had a strong balanced squad with depth.

    I know u mentioned writing about West Indies cricket is something you always wanted to do….good luck…
    But in my opinion it dont worth your time since you were not a past player and not privilaged to certain sensative information and also don’t have access to dressing room information. You have fan based information where you simply relying on stats and previous articles by media houses to comment. But the media articles don’t always carry the correct information and stats do not show the full story ….that’s why you could write a article “from zero to hero” when the reality is at most zero to one on a scale of 10.
    Jason Holder as a player being the top ranked all rounder…you could have written about him on a personal level

    1. Good day Sterling. These articles written so far were based on my opinion as well as statistics. Tony Cozier was not a past player but he got the experience in his writing and eventually grew to be a legendary writer and commentator. West Indies are at the bottom of the rankings but once again it’s due to several factors. At the moment they are playing good cricket and bounced back well in the 2nd ODI vs England. West Indies must play good consistent cricket if they are to rise in the rankings in World cricket. Darren Sammy was a brilliant T20 captain with the rich resources of talent in his favor. Jason Holder is not a perfect captain but his tactics aren’t bad especially in recent times. Thanks for your comment and well wishes.

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