So that’s why Jason Holder’s going to be Test captain

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If you envision the next Chanderpaul, the first thing you picture is a younger version of the current Chanderpaul – a crabby, left-handed batsman who has Chanderpaul’s face and Chanderpaul’s oversized cricket gear. What you don’t picture is a two metre tall right-hander who’s actually a bowler. Nevertheless, Jason Holder delivered a Shivnarine Chanderpaulesque performance to save the first Test. It was fully admirable.

There are other bowlers who’ve never made a first-class century before who’ve danced their way to their first in a Test match. Holder’s team-mate Jerome Taylor is one. He made 106 off 107 balls against New Zealand and that’s generally the way it works: a few lusty hits in fairly unchallenging circumstances; the opposition rolling their eyes or getting frustrated.

Holder’s effort was very different. Holder played an innings. It was beyond responsibility. It was nothing less than a blunt refusal to allow the opposition to win – this in a team that has frequently folded like junk mail forced through one of those powerfully sprung letterboxes that only opens about 8mm even when you apply maximum force.

As for England, the players who played played well enough. Even Cook’s captaincy was pretty decent. Pretty much all of the bowlers were controlled and disciplined, but control and discipline are secondary qualities on a flat, slow pitch when wickets are all you care about. What you want then is an injection of chaos. Five bowlers who deliver chaos is too many but you need at least one.

But this is why you play a Test series. The new ball didn’t swing for long, reverse swing was hard to come by. Armed with these facts, we’ll judge England based on how they line up and perform in the second Test.


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  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your penultimate paragraph, KC. Actually pretty good bowling/captaincy (as you’d expect considering the lead), but no (apologies in advance) “X-factor bowler”. Neither somebody whose raw pace doesn’t give two monkeys about the pitch (Steyn, Johnson), nor a spinner who can give it a good rip (Herath, Ajmal-of-yore).

    Trouble is, I’m not sure England will have them for the next test either. Wood and Plunkett have pace but no magic, and might not get into the team anyway; Ali rips more than Tredwell, but probably not enough to defy a dead pitch. I guess we’ll see.

    1. Have they sent Rashid home yet? Still feel he could add a bit of much needed variety and magic, but it now seems he was never intended to play anyway.

    2. All I hear about Rashid (from the people who saw him prior to this series, not Michael Vaughn) is that he was bowling full tosses and long-hops like they were going out of fashion. He might be okay for a second spinner once Ali’s back (returned, I mean), I suppose, but it sounds like you would need a second full-time spinner to provide some control while Rashid’s in the team.

  2. Cook’s captaincy. He declared per the textbook (which is OK), then defended the boundary until it became beyond even the plot of a Hollywood film that WI could win. Then he attacked. This is straight from the British Empire school of attacking – only attack when you overwhelmingly outgun your opponent, preferably by having all of the guns.

    On a flat pitch, I thought he would have to bring the West Indies out of their shell to get a win. Cook chose to ram them deeper into their shell, then seal up the opening with a cork.

    It’s not so much that he is a bad captain, it’s more that he isn’t a good one. I think we should expect more verve, more brilliance, from an international captain, just as we expect test bowlers to be better than county bowlers. If the analysis is only that he didn’t make any mistakes, why is he an international captain?

    Still, at least we have his batting.

    1. We thought his field placings – which admittedly probably aren’t all his doing – were decent. He often had funny little pockets of catchers in front of the wicket in both innings. He also denied Jimmy a run-saving fielder in the second, insisting on a catcher instead.

      He’s not the best, but there is an overwhelming body of opinion that he’s fully terrible and it’s getting to the point that it’s just something people say without really thinking about it. We’re just trying to redress the balance a bit.

    1. He’ll have to go. Clearly “not from the right sort of family” for the West Indies set up these days.

      Jason Holder should have blagged a sponsorship/scholarship to Dulwich College (or similar) and played for England, like any other self-respecting citizen of the (former) colonies.

    1. Yes. Even more than I am excited by the prospect of Sam Hain. Who could also be a terrifying prospect, if he so chose.

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