Jason Holder: Lord Megachief of Gold 2018

Jason Holder (via Windies Cricket YouTube)

Our annual Lord Megachief of Gold award is the highest honour in cricket. The title is recognition of performance over the previous calendar year. Here are all the winners.

There was some half-decent batting in 2018 – Virat Kohli played a couple of blinding innings, while Henry Nicholls averaged 73 – but it was the bowlers who stood out, and the pace bowlers in particular.

Full respect to Kagiso Rabada, the top wicket-taker with 52 at 20.07; kudos to Jasprit Bumrah who straight-armed his way to 48 at 21.02; and worthy mentions to Pat Cummins, Jimmy Anderson and Ishant Sharma, all of whom took over 40 wickets at somewhere around 20. However, the standout performers were Mohammad Abbas and Jason Holder.

The former took 38 wickets at 13.76 with his ostensibly unspectacular dobblery. The latter took 33 wickets at (what?!) 12.39 and nobody noticed.

The metamorphosis

At some point in the middle of June, Jason Holder turned into a completely different bowler. He went from being a guy who always looked like he should take wickets but didn’t, to being a guy who took exactly as many wickets as you imagined he would and then maybe a couple more on top of that.

We’ve no idea what happened. Maybe he and Michael Holding shared the same telepod and mingled DNA. Maybe he got confused by time zones following a long flight and gorged himself after midnight, triggering a metamorphosis into a seam bowling gremlin.

On June 20, Jason Holder had a Test bowling average of 38.83. In his next four Tests, against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India, he took 30 wickets at 9.20.

That is, by any stretch, an improvement.

Of course he did

In many respects, this makes perfect sense. Jason Holder is a laser-guided two metre tall bowler. Of course he’s a challenge for batsmen to face. But where did this come from?

In the first innings of the day-night Test against Sri Lanka at Bridgetown, Holder came in to bat with the score reading 53-5, at which point he made 74.

This seems to have been the turning point as he then took 4-19 plus 5-41 in the second innings. (It was a stellar effort from the West Indies to lose that match really.)

Against Bangladesh he took 2-10 and 3-30 before ramping things up a bit in the second Test with 5-44 and 6-33.

Cheap wickets in easy conditions against easy opposition?

Not a bit of it. After that, Holder’s performance in a ten-wicket defeat in Hyderabad featured a fifty and 5-56 in India’s first innings. (He didn’t really get much chance to bowl in the second innings thanks to the swift losing of the match.)

There his Test year ended.

There’s a sense of dissatisfaction here; a feeling that others may have proven more. Holder took his wickets in six Tests against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. Rabada took his in ten against India, Australia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

But ask yourself this: what more could Jason Holder possibly have done? If a captain can chip in with crucial runs and take his wickets at 12 while enduring all the press conferences and other hassle, that’s really something.

We’re not 100 per cent sure what that something is, but with three Tests against England and a couple more against India coming up in 2019, maybe we’ll find out.


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30 Appeals

  1. A bit of housekeeping on former Lord Megachiefs of Gold. Are we still to use their titles once a new Megachief has ascended, or are they exiled from our memories and never to be mentioned again?

  2. Goodness gracious his arms!

    Anyway that’s excellently deserved, and flew completely under the radar for me. Nice work.

    Incidentally I was reading back over last year’s, pointing out that an average in the 70s isn’t actually all that LMoG-worthy; and also an article on 2018 in cricket on Cricinfo, pointing out that batting averages in general are slumping. Might 70 be the new 90?

  3. A fine choice, but the list of previous winners brings back ugly memories. Some of us have not forgiven you for the Michael Clarke debacle. Some of us have not stopped hiding in your garden waiting for the opportunity to rearrange your bins so you feel a bit weird as punishment. Some of us continue to follow you round the supermarket occasionally adding some pickled cabbage to your trolley to make you scared. Some of us ride under your car like Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear on the off-chance you are taking a boating holiday in a hurricane so we can terrorise you on said holiday even more than the hurricane does.

    That’s not me, you understand. But I’m sure someone here is doing all those things. It’s the least you deserve for that unforgivable lapse.

  4. Oof. He certainly flew under the radar. I expected one of Kohli/Rabada/Bumrah. Hopefully he continues in the same form next year.

    • King Cricket

      January 2, 2019 at 9:10 am

      Kohli’s been really consistent for a long time, but his year wasn’t actually all that exceptional. He just played a lot.

      • Kagiso Rabada is another victim of his own consistency, I feel. He might well churn out year after year of absurd wicketry (he was in the conversation last year, and consistency without breaking down is a very impressive trait for an out-and-out pacer), while never quite being freakish enough in any one year to stand for LMoG.

      • You’re right. He (Kohli) had ridiculous statistics last year (and the year before). This year is rather tame in comparison (more runs, but as you said, he’s played 6 more innings).

  5. Happy for Holder, I’d always liked his earnestness as a cricketer, glad to see that convert into consistent performances. I was surprised too looking at his 2018 numbers, basis which he’d made it into my 2018 Test and ODI XIs.

  6. This posting is awash with facts, stats and logic. It very nearly upset my equilibrium for the day. Thank goodness for the comments section.

  7. LMoG XI

    1. Brendon McCullum (2014)
    2. Shiv Chanderpaul (2007, 2008)
    3. Kane Williamson (2015)
    4. Michael Clarke (2012)
    5. Ian Bell (2011)
    6. Angelo Mathews (2014)
    7. MS Dhoni (2009)
    8. Ravichandran Ashwin (2016)
    9. Jason Holder (2018)
    10. Dale Steyn (2010, 2013)
    11. James Anderson (2017)

    • King Cricket

      January 3, 2019 at 1:12 pm

      Ha. Didn’t realise there’d been that many.

      Our main takeaway from that is that we should probably cut opening batsmen more slack.

      • That team is very satisfyingly balanced. You’ve clearly had a conscious and even hand when it comes awarding. Shiv and McCullum make a fine opening pair… don’t fret it.

      • King Cricket

        January 3, 2019 at 1:48 pm

        Complementary qualities. It could work.

    • The main question: is this better than Howe’s previous LMoG XI, which had two Dale Steyns, two Shiv Chanderpauls, and 2014’s freakish Mathews/McCullum hybrid batting at 6?

  8. In other news, Australia are being thrashed at Sydney. Lots of declaration talk, not sure why.

    • For me, the strange thing is why the Aussie bowlers are unable to make the ball swing in Australia this season. It is the same bunch of bowlers and same conditions as last season.

      We have been assured that the Aussies were not cheating with sandpaper and stuff in last year’s home series and of course we believe those assurances. So what’s happened?

      Inexplicable.

      • Assuming that Australia haven’t been cheating THE ENTIRE TIME, their big problem this time is that they have no batsmen.
        The entire Australian strategy for the past several years has relied on flat pitches and batsmen that can score runs. And then the bowling attack relies on the pressure those runs create to get wickets. The moment a pitch starts to do something or the ball swings in the air, they are in trouble.

      • Australia minus Smith, Warner, Sand, and Paper = Elite Rubbish

      • Good chance that they don’t want to even touch the ball lest the accusations fly.

      • King Cricket

        January 4, 2019 at 2:35 pm

        Yes, they may well be erring on the side of ineffectiveness when it comes to ball management.

    • I’m happy they declared, last thing India want is to risk a broken Bumrah finger by batting through.

      Pretty unhappy about Pant’s dropped catch on a flat wicket though. India have found their Gilchrist (Dhoni was nowhere near this good with the bat overseas) — and in true early-Gilchrist form he’s not as good as the previous gloveman.

  9. Worth adding that without Holder, the West Indies aren’t at the World Cup.

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