Many West Indian cricketers are natural athletes and demonstrate tremendous agility on the field, making everyone awestruck with their talent, skill, and presence. Barbadian Jason Holder is one such cricketer, who possesses excellent all-round abilities. The Caribbean people expect a great deal from him. With his bowling, he has shown us that he can topple any batsman and with his stroke play, he can break down the best of attacks.
But where the intrepid Caribbean fan is concerned, is Jason Holder demonstrating that killer instinct? Especially where his cricket of lately is concerned, is the Jason Holder we are seeing even contesting like the Jason Holder that we know: the one who’s bold, brave, brilliant?
Even though he has a strong build and is so tall, he has struggled both as a bowler and batsman for his team, and all the talk about him as one of the top all-rounders in the present game is sometimes questioned by the legions of West Indian fans worldwide. Having talent is only the first step. To make the most of it, you need to actively hone your skills and continue to learn and grow.
Former World Cup-winner Clive Lloyd appointed Holder the West Indies’ ODI captain in 2014 after seeing him as a talent for the future. Brian Lara too liked him as a captain but leading a team at the age of 23, with so many experienced players with high reputations was challenging for him. Although he never complained about the huge responsibilities he had to shoulder, his lazy approach at the crease always hindered his consistency as a batsman.
The problem is that Jason possesses a soft-spoken manner, but as a bowler, one reckons he should have an aggressive attitude and a fiery personality that drives him to take on top batsmen. Is that happening for the lanky Barbadian?
Either one is heavily misplaced or it seems that Jason Holder lacks this attitude, which has hampered his development as a truly top-quality seamer.
And when he does do well with the red ball, for example, the long handle of the bat bereaves him.
Let’s take his Test record, for instance.
In 2021, as a batsman, Holder scored 362 runs from 8 Tests, which is 16 innings. He averaged 25. That same Test calendar year, bowling at an average of 22, he picked 22 wickets from just 8 outings.
But would you call that effort with the bat world class? In the next two calendar years playing red-ball cricket, Holder picked 5 wickets, thus providing a wickets column that seemingly dried up. That’s when he bowled 6 Tests. His batting, meanwhile, never really came to the cause of the West Indies; Holder scoring 146 runs from 6 Tests.
As a matter of fact, he averaged just above 16 with the bat in 2022, failing to score a fifty despite nine outings.
Which talent touted as a world class all rounder would be delighted with that sort of effort?
But Holder’s issues, or so it seem, only begin here; on slow and docile wickets, he rarely appears ready to bend his back and produce a wicket-taking delivery.
A dogged innings of resilience and mental strength that saved a test match for West Indies in April 2015 is what truly announced him as a premir all rounder. It was a time where everyone felt Caribbean cricket found an all-rounder who will serve them well for many years to come.
But have the runs been coming upfront? Besides the fifty of great reckoning on the Indian soil in the maiden ODI played in 2022, in that three match series, runs again dried up for the tall man in 50-over cricket.
But forget not. He further enhanced his reputation as the one of best all-rounders of the modern game after his whirlwind unbeaten 202 against England in the first test match at Bridgetown in January 2019. However, he and the West Indies have suffered from stagnancy over the years, being unable to keep marching forward.
At times, it even appears that the man with the glowing cover drive is even lazy to progress as a top level batter. Which leaves the question- is he even trying hard enough to raise his game.
Though, make no mistake-his contemporaries like Ben Stokes and Hardik Pandya has overcome their personal problems to become the mainstay of their respective teams. Every time they play, they show plenty of fire in their bellies to accomplish something truly great for their country.
You got to have the mental strength to overcome obstacles in any sport, regardless of how good your skills are because skill alone won’t do the job for anyone. In addition, mental resilience is equally important, as great Brian Lara has emphasized on many occasions about the mental aspects of the game.
To conclude, it seems that Jason Holder, who isn’t done yet, can certianly raise his brand of cricket.
While surely he has the makings to be a great all-rounder in the game, he isn’t there yet, at least, in the now. He needs to work on his shortcomings and also come out of his shell in order to become a player full of zeal and enthusiasm, in addition to the skills he possesses.