Holder doing a good job - Simmons
West Indies coach Phil Simmons said before this Test that one of Jason Holder's strengths is his ability to leave the pressure on the field. Whatever is happening out in the middle, whatever gaping hole West Indies find themselves in, Holder is a man who can relax when he changes into his civvies at the end of the day. It's a good thing too, for Holder is in charge of a team that is about as far behind in this series as is humanly possible.
Consider the raw figures. By the end of the second day in Melbourne, West Indies had lost 24 wickets in this series for 462 runs. Australia had lost seven, for 1134 runs. It meant Australia were averaging 162 runs per wicket lost, West Indies 19.25. You need 10 wickets to dismiss your opposition, but if Steven Smith enforces the follow-on and things continue at this rate, West Indies might struggle to take 10 in the series.
Amid all the failures, Holder has tried to lead by example. On the first morning, Kemar Roach leaked 15 runs from his first over with the new ball, and Holder immediately took Roach off and took the ball himself. He also began on the second morning, and while he went wicketless throughout the innings, he alone amongst his bowlers was highly economical, his 22 overs costing only 47 runs as he tried to build pressure at one end.
"I love that fact that he's taken on the responsibility," West Indies coach Phil Simmons said after the second day's play. "Even this morning he bowled a lot ... and he said 'right, I'm going to start this, and set the tone', which is admirable. But at the same time it takes a lot out of him. I think it's a case where he has to know when to do that and when not to do it. But it's very admirable that he's trying to lead from the front.
"I can't speak for him exactly but it must be frustrating and it must be hard on him, being the captain, being one of the leading bowlers and looking at [him as] one of the batsmen, because he has a Test hundred recently. There's a lot for him as a young man to deal with. But talking to him and looking at him and I think he's doing a good job."
And it is a hard job. Everywhere Holder looks he will see a problem, be it bowlers missing their lengths, fielders not pushing hard to chase balls, or batsmen losing concentration too quickly. That West Indies went to tea on day two at 0 for 33 was encouraging after Australia had piled on 3 for 551 declared, but by stumps it was the same old story, and they had collapsed to 6 for 91.
"I think, as in yesterday's performance too, the first hour we worked hard and we did the right things in the first hour … but then let it go in the second hour," Simmons said. "And let it go in the hour after lunch. We batted fairly well leading up to tea, and then after tea some soft dismissals.
"That's the frustrating part. It's about doing the things, but not just doing it for an hour. It's about doing it for the two hours, come in and rest, do it for another two hours, and that's where we've fallen down. Yesterday evening we bowled pretty well late in the evening. It could have been 400 in the day but we pulled it back, and then let it go again today. That's the frustration, it's not as consistent for the two hours of a session."
One of the key problems for West Indies has been the lack of impact from their senior men. Roach has been wayward with the ball and has not taken a wicket this series, Jerome Taylor has two wickets at 102.50, and Denesh Ramdin and Marlon Samuels have each scored 12 runs from three innings. Samuels, in particular, has been a disappointment, and late on the second day at the MCG was trapped lbw by James Pattinson for a third-ball duck.
"He's been one of the top batsmen for West Indies and he has that class that he can deliver tomorrow or Tuesday as the case may be, where we have to bat again," Simmons said. "I don't believe in writing him off. I think he's struggled. It's up to him to get his head in the right space for the second innings of this match."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale