Holder glad to make his mark
NORTH SOUND – Jason Holder rebounded from the disappointment of losing the label of West Indies Test captain with a destructive spell against Sri Lanka in the first Test in Antigua.
Holder ended with five for 27 from 17.4 overs and the Sri Lankans, sent in to bat, were bowled out for 169 in their first innings on the first day of the match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium (SVRS).
Holder said he was satisfied to see the hard work he has put into his bowling finally paying off for him in a big way in the longest format of the sport.
“It’s great,” he said in a post-play interview. “It’s a great feeling. I had a slow start towards wicket-taking in Tests and I think I have elevated myself up to the top 10 bowlers in the World.
“It is good to see that hard work is finally paying off. I have stuck to the process a lot longer and trusted it, and now I am just reaping the rewards. It really, really satisfying.”
He added: “I am glad that this was my day and that I could contribute heavily towards the team’s cause and glad that I could put the team in a good position.
“We were very disciplined. We moved well in the field. We looked clinical. I think our body language and our attitude was very good, so it was really commendable seeing the guys going out there and doing it.”
It was the eighth time that Holder has taken five wickets or more in a Test and will probably help him to hold onto the World No.1 all-rounder ranking over the next few weeks.
“We probably did not utilise the new ball as well as we would have liked, but it was good to see Kemar and I stepping up, especially in that early period to break the shackles and get into their middle order,” he said.
“We knew that if we got into their middle order, we could make some pretty good inroads and put the lower half of their batting under pressure. It’s quite a long tail, in our opinion, and that was something we kept in the back of our minds.”
Fellow pacer Kemar Roach supported with three for 47 from 16 overs and continued his love affair with the SVRS, where he has now taken 33 Test wickets.
West Indies reached 13 without loss when stumps were drawn with Brathwaite not out on two and fellow opener John Campbell not out on seven.
“Things went well for us,” Holder said. “We were able to bowl out their side within the first day, which is a very good sign, and it was good that we were without loss at the close of play.
“That was really, really crucial, and more often than not, when you put yourself in that position, you are always in ascendancy going into the latter half of the match. Hopefully, we can keep it going and press home the advantage.”
Because of COVID-19 pandemic health and safety restrictions, the match is being played without the accompanying party-like atmosphere normally associated with matches in the Caribbean, but Holder said the players have adjusted.
“It was different having no crowd,” he said. “We are accustomed to seeing our fans waving their flags, jumping up, celebrating, cheering and drinking.
“That has always been our Caribbean cricket culture. To have an empty stand, it is a bit different.”
He said: “But we have seen it and done it before throughout the Tour of England and the Tour of Bangladesh, so the guys know what to expect.
“When you cross the line, it is your personal pride at stake, whenever you are bowling and in a contest with the opposing batsmen, or batting and in a contest with the opposing bowlers. There is always something to play for.”