BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Top selector Roger Harper has praised the attitude of captain Jason Holder during the recent series in Sri Lanka, arguing that the all-rounder has been “excellent” in his approach and a source of inspiration to his fellow players.
The 29-year-old Holder was sacked as captain before the series and replaced by his fellow Barbadian Kraigg Brathwaite, but remained a groundbreaking figure throughout the two Tests rubber that ended in a no-brainer on Good Friday.
He averaged 69 with the bat in scoring an unbeaten half-century in the second Test, and also finished the series with seven wickets after scoring a five-wicket haul in the first innings of the opening Test.
“I thought Jason had performed really well. He got five wickets in the first Test match and then of course the [71 not out] in the last pubs too, ”Harper noted.
“But even more than his performance was the way he went about his business. I think, watching him in the nets and on the field, you always hear him encouraging the players, trying to lift the guys and keep them in high spirits.
“It’s been the livewire. He has really handled things very well and in an excellent way, and has remained the kind of leader we know someone with his experience can be and that’s important to the team. ”
One of the youngest ever Windies Test captains when he was appointed at age 23, Holder led West Indies in 37 of his 47 Tests – winning 11, losing 21 and drawing five games. His captaincy came under intense scrutiny following heavy side defeats in New Zealand last December and his fate was sealed when he skipped the tour of Bangladesh earlier this year and the Brathwaite stand-up skipper inspired a seriously weakened side to a 2-0 whitewash . Harper said the decision to remove Holder as captain had been a sober one but had also been necessary in helping maintain the new culture formed in Bangladesh.
“It was a thought-provoking decision, a lot of thought,” the former Guyana and West Indies spinner told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show.
“But I think the kind of spirit we saw in Bangladesh – the performance of course made a big difference – but the kind of spirit, the kind of fighting, the kind of determination we saw in that team, we wanted continue so that our decision is greatly influenced. ”
Brathwaite, however, appeared to be fired by the mantle of leadership and broke a long drought to post his first Test century in three years, en route to collecting 237 runs at an average of 59.
The hundred – 126 in the first innings of the second Test – was his ninth overall and saw him become the 16th West Indies batsman to pass 4 000 runs in the longest format. A separate performance, Harper said Brathwaite’s willingness to be innovative especially on the flat wickets at Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in Antigua, made his captaincy stand out.
“I think Kraigg did a good job in this series. I think the pitch as you know has been very flat but what you saw from Kraigg was his willingness to try different things, ”Harper stressed.
“A willingness not only to sit back but a willingness to try things out to see if they are [could] create opportunities and that is positive going forward. I think with Kraigg as well, you see a lot more of the team involved in support so that’s good. ”