Jason Holder and his men are growing up together

Monday, November 06, 2017

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Even with the travail West Indies cricket has had to endure for much of the past 20 years, Captain Mr Jason Holder and his team were favoured to overcome hosts Zimbabwe in the recent two-Test series.

Nonetheless, there were the usual doubters, and the hosts certainly entertained notions of creating a morale-boosting upset.

As it was, the West Indies won the series (1-0) in relative comfort and perhaps would have completed a clean sweep had the pitches been kinder to bowlers.

The overall impression in Zimbabwe was of a team continuing the incremental growth which has been in evidence since Mr Holder — who turned 26 yesterday — took charge of a very young team two years ago.

The pessimists will point out that, until his team defeated lowly Zimbabwe, the West Indies had not won a Test series under Mr Holder's leadership.

Yet, it can't be ignored that, in the space of a year, Mr Holder's West Indies have won four Test matches — three away against Pakistan, England, and Zimbabwe, and one at home against Pakistan. That's far more than can be said of any West Indies team in many years.

In fact, when the West Indies defeated Pakistan at Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in the third Test of that series a year ago, the Caribbean side was recording its first Test win overseas, against higher-ranked opposition, since beating South Africa in that country in December 2007.

The administrators of West Indies cricket have come in for much blame in relation to governance down the years, and this newspaper has been among their harshest critics. However, there can be little doubt that they got it right by sticking with youth.

Indeed, we would go so far as to suggest that the decision by former chairman of selectors, Mr Clive Lloyd to go for Mr Holder as the man to take the team forward was a master stroke.

Mr Holder, a thoughtful man, tells us that at this stage of team building he is more concerned with the “process” than with looking too far ahead to actual results. He recognises that if the team does the right things, the good results will follow.

Now, in the next few weeks, the team must face the further challenge of New Zealand on their home turf. He and his teammates — most his own age or younger — must stick with the policy of getting the process right, fully recognising that as they grow as a team they will get better.

In March next year comes the challenge of qualifying for the 10-team 2019 ICC (50-over) World Cup in England and Wales. Readers will recall that the West Indies, two-time winners, missed out on automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup after falling outside the top-eight ranking.

Many who recall West Indies' dominance of world cricket in decades past cringe at the idea of the Caribbean team having to qualify.

However, Mr Holder and his men need not be detained by negative thoughts. In fact, the qualification tournament against the likes of Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Ireland, and other lower-ranked teams, in Zimbabwe, should be seen as an excellent opportunity to sharpen methods and skills.

We wish them well in the weeks and months ahead.




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