With the much awaited first 'Bio-secure' Test, cricket has made a successful return since the COVID-19 outbreak. In a well-contested match last week that went the distance, West Indies led by Jason Holder got the better of hosts England at the Rose Bowl in Southampton to gain a crucial 1-0 lead in the ongoing #raisethebat series.
Throughout the contest, Jason Holder's men had the upper hand in all aspects of the game. The visiting bowlers operated with discipline, not allowing the English batsmen to dominate while the West Indies batsmen played according to the demand of the hour.
Jason Holder - leading from the front
On the second day of the Rose Bowl encounter, an initial burst from new ball-bowler Gabriel had sent the English top three batsmen back to the hut with the the team score reading 51. Jason Holder then took over from there.
With the ball doing its bit due to moisture and overcast conditions, Jason Holder swung the ball both ways and didn't allow the English batsmen to settle. Though England captain Ben Stokes and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler offered some resistance with a 67-run partnership, Jason Holder dismissed the duo in quick succession to stymie the hosts' fightback.
With little resistance from the rest of the English batting lineup, Jason Holder ended the first innings with career best figures of 6 for 42 as England were bowled out for a modest 204.
Jason Holder also sent back his opposite number Ben Stokes in the second innings as well after the latter was involved in a threatening 98-run partnership with Zak Crawley for the fourth wicket. West Indies then chased down a tricky target of 200 runs to take the lead in the series.
A strong finish to take the 1-0 lead in the #RaiseTheBat Series!🙌🏾— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) July 12, 2020
Watch the Highlights + Match Report of Test 1 | Day 5⬇️
https://t.co/hpD1jARmqA#MenInMaroon #WIReady #ENGvWI pic.twitter.com/vsrabYIS3t
Jason Holder has excelled as a Test captain
In his 41-Test career, Jason Holder has captained his team on 33 occasions. Having bestowed with the lead job in October 2015 for the series in Sri Lanka, when he was barely 24, it has been a challenging journey for the tall, lanky all-rounder from Barbados.
Of late, marshalling the West Windies in Test matches is considered a tough job because most their star players opt for the shorter formats and worldwide T20 leagues over the longer format of the game. More often than not, the West Indies Test team has featured a different set of players, which makes achieving consistency a difficult proposition.
With the challenge of having limited resources at his disposal, Jason Holder had to toil hard and wait till the end of October 2016 to register his first win as a Test captain.
After Australian Stuart Law donned the hat of coach from 2017, West Indies have started achieving more success in the Test arena. By the year-end, the team from the Caribbean registered their first Test series win under Jason Holder, achieving the same against Zimbabwe.
The 2018 home season proved to be one of the most productive ones for West Indies in recent years. Continued their improvement in Tests under the hard-working Jason Holder, West Indies drew a 3-Test series against Sri Lanka 1-1 and then whitewashed Bangladesh 2-0.
A bigger glory came about when Jason Holder led West Indies to a surprise series win over England at home in January 2019 when they won the first two tests in the three-match series. Jason Holder led his team from the front by scoring a career-best 202 in the second innings of the first Test played in Bridgetown.
In that series, he was impressive with the ball as well. Jason Holder took 4 for 43 in the second innings of the second Test in North Sound, bundling out England for 132 as West Indies easily overhauled a victory target of 14 runs.
Overall, Jason Holder's captaincy record reads 11 wins, 17 losses and five draws in 33 Tests. Going by the performance of West Indies in recent times, especially in Tests, it is an impressive return. Jason Holder has been reasonably successful in bringing some mojo back into his team.
Jason Holder has also left his mark as a worthy all-rounder
Though he made his Test debut as a bowling all-rounder, Jason Holder started showing his batting prowess in only his second game. Batting at number seven, he scored 38 and 52 against New Zealand in Bridgetown in the third Test of West Indies' home series in 2014.
Since then, there has been no looking back for the right-handed batsman. In 41 Tests, he has accumulated 1917 runs at an average of 32.49, which can be termed as more than a healthy return for a lower-order batsman. Jason Holder has three 100+ Test scores to his credit and has a double century as well. Since January 2018, his batting average has moved past 41.
Jason Holder's medium-paced bowling has been impressive as well. In 41 Tests, he has claimed 113 wickets, giving away a miserly 25.5 runs per wicket. Since January 2018, in 12 tests, Jason Holder has averaged just over 14, while adding 60 wickets to his kitty.
Following his Southampton exploits with the ball, Jason Holder climbed to number two among bowlers in the ICC Test Ranking charts.
🚨 RANKINGS UPDATE 🚨— ICC (@ICC) July 14, 2020
After his phenomenal performance in the first #ENGvWI game, Jason Holder overtakes Neil Wagner in the @MRFWorldwide ICC Test Rankings for bowling. He's now No.2 👏
Latest rankings: https://t.co/AIR0KN4yY5 pic.twitter.com/itkwxZFxgm
These impressive numbers with both bat and ball in recent times have catapulted the Windies Test captain to number one position in the ICC Test Ranking charts for all-rounders. With 485 points, he is 53 points ahead of second-placed Ben Stokes.
The 28-year-old Jason Holder probably has a lot of cricket left in him. If he keeps himself fit and continues his good form, the West Indies captain could have more impressive numbers by the time he decides to call time on his Test career.