It has been so long since world cricket got to see a Windies side that dominated five-day cricket. Gone are the days when the Lara’s, Chanderpaul’s and the Walsh’s came up and lit the ground on fire with mesmerizing displays of red ball cricket. Controversies, problems and lack of quality players have derailed West Indian cricket to such an extent that as a fan it had almost become impossible to watch the Windies play the longest format of the game. There were times when Windies line-ups bundled out and it so felt that test cricket was no longer considered by the young players emerging in the Caribbean islands.
Things started to look really damp for them before the 2015 world cup when monetary issues and disputes in the cricketing board ensured that the top draw players wished to never play for their country again. The downfall of Windies cricket had been meteoric and during those times one player was handed the responsibility of taking the team and saving face if not get them back to the heights legendary Windies teams had reached. That one man was young Jason Holder. The boy from Barbados, a country that has given Windies cricket stalwarts like Sir Garfield Sobers, Gordon Greenidge, and Desmond Haynes was thrust with the burden of test captaincy at the age of 24, making him the second youngest test captain of the Windies team. At such a young age he was entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the Windies team out of their never-ending slump. For long it looked like the Windies board had over-burdened a young gem who had shined so bright in the 2010 under-19 world cup for them. 2018 seemed to show that Windies cricket might just have made the right decision.
2018 was the year test cricket was restored with the respect and attention it deserved. The year where teams like India, England, South Africa and Australia proved that there was nothing better than five-day cricket. Yet, the one series that will always stick with me was the test series between West Indies and Bangladesh. The level of test cricket played by the Windies team was phenomenal and made me believe that Windies cricket was on the resurgence. From that series on it looked like Windies were finally playing like a nation hungry for success in the purest form of the game. From then to now, to the thumping of England in the first test at the Kensington Oval it gives me no other reason to believe that I was wrong. At the centre of this thumping was none other than the hometown boy, the leader Jason Holder.
He led from the front with an innings that comprised of red ball hitting of the highest quality, the likes of which hasn’t been seen for a long time from a West Indian all-rounder. His leadership skills were demonstrated well throughout the test match and it resulted in a victory that sent a message to all the teams that the Windies side had arrived. Jason Holder might not be the most upbeat captain either the most exciting, but he without any doubt is a leader who has the ability to take a lot of pressure and staying strong towards the cause.
It remains to be seen whether or not this Windies side can be as threatening as they were in Barbados for a long period of time, but one thing is for sure, they have a leader who has instilled in the team the spirit of never backing down. Here is to Jason Holder, an underrated cricketer and leader finally getting all the credit that his abilities deserve.
Video: Jason Holder | Westindies Finest