Jason Holder: A complete misfit
During their early days as a cricketing nation, West Indies had a number of fantastic cricketers in their team but their success remained sporadic until the 1960s when players like Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Clyde Walcott, Sir Gary Sobers, Wesley Hall, Charlie Griffith, Rohan Kanhai, Lance Gibbs etc. were at the peak of their international careers.
After their retirements, a new era dawned under the leadership of Clive Lloyd, backed by world-class players like Sir Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Roy Fredericks, Desmond Haynes, Alvin Kallicharan and a bunch of lethal fast bowlers that included Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, and Malcolm Marshall.
This period during the 1970s saw West Indies as the most feared team in the world as they won the first two editions of the Cricket World Cup in 1975 and 1979. They were close to making it a hat-trick of World Cups before a resilient Indian team under the leadership of Kapil Dev halted their run at the 1983 World Cup Final at Lords.
Soon, the likes of Clive Lloyd, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Gordon Greenidge retired from the national team and then came another lethal fast bowling duo of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose who left the opposition batsmen baffled through their wondrous bowling.
Soon, a number of West Indies’ star players from the 70s and 80s including Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes and Malcolm Marshall retired from the national team and even though one of the world’s greatest batsmen in Brian Lara entered the international arena during the early 90s, West Indies did not have the same killer instinct they possessed during the 1970s and 1980s and during the 2000s.
West Indies’ performance in both Test and ODI cricket started to decline with a Champions Trophy triumph in 2004 being all they could accomplish till 2010.
In October 2010, Darren Sammy was made the captain of the West Indies cricket team in Tests and ODIs. In his first tournament as captain in the 2011 World Cup, West Indies did not have a very bad outing as they reached the quarter-finals which many people were of the opinion that they wouldn’t.
Following the World Cup, Sammy led West Indies to their first ever Test victory in three years against Pakistan in 2011. Soon Sammy was handed the T20 captaincy and led the West Indies to their major World T20 win in 2012 at Sri Lanka which made West Indies only the second nation to win all three major ICC titles.
A year later, Sammy was removed from the Test and ODI captaincy and was replaced by Denesh Ramdin and Dwayne Bravo respectively before a young Jason Holder replaced both of them to become West Indies’ youngest ever captain at 23 years and 72 days. Sammy was soon dropped from the Test team and later from the ODI team after the 2015 World Cup.
Holder’s first ODI series as a captain was a total disaster as West Indies were thrashed by South Africa 4-1. His next assignment was the 2015 World Cup where West Indies began poorly, losing to Ireland before beating a patchy Pakistan side. They somehow managed to scrape through their group above Ireland courtesy of a higher net run-rate before being thrashed by eventual runners-up New Zealand in the quarter-finals.
Following the World Cup, West Indies were whitewashed in the two match test series against Sri Lanka which incidentally was Holder’s first Test series as captain and were whitewashed in the ODI series as well. Holder’s first ODI win as captain following the 2015 World Cup came this June during the tri-series against South Africa and Australia at home. Holder led the Windies to the final where they were beaten by Australia by 58 runs.
Before the tri-series, Sammy led a relatively unheralded West Indies side to their second World T20 triumph in India. Hopes weren’t high for the Windies as prior to the tournament, they were on the verge of pulling out due to disputes with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). A few months following their World T20 win, Sammy was axed from the T20 captaincy as well as from the T20 side mainly due to his harsh words addressed towards the WICB following West Indies’ World T20 win.
In Holder’s previous three series, West Indies have lost all three of them, losing 2-0 to Australia at the Frank Worrell Trophy which was followed by a 2-0 defeat to India in the four-match Test series at home and a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Pakistan in the ODI series at the United Arab Emirates.
Holder’s record as captain is enough to suggest that he should be axed from captaincy soon as West Indies have fared poorly in almost all the series, Test or ODI, which he has captained. While Sammy had his natural charisma that developed a lot of unity within the West Indies team, Holder, on the contrary, has been far from being charismatic and there is a total lack of coordination within the team which has propelled the Windies to perform poorly in one match after another.
There’s no question about his presence in the team as he had been a handy player for the Windies on more than one occasion with the bat as well as with the ball but his captaincy has left the West Indies team in complete shambles. If West Indies are to rediscover their form during the 1970s and 1980s, then the first thing to do would be sack Holder from the captaincy and reinstate Sammy as the Windies captain or at least somebody who can develop unity within the team.