January 17, 2002

Holder To Lead Windies 'B"

Roland Holder's first-class cricket career isn't over yet. The experienced middle-order batsman, who has been discarded by the Barbados selectors, was yesterday appointed captain of the West Indies 'B' team for the forthcoming Busta Series.

I was surprised at the offer. It was very late in coming,Holder said on Voice of Barbados' Tell It Like It Is Programme minutes last night after his appointment was announced by West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) chief cricket operations officer Michael Hall.

Perhaps I was caught a little bit off-guard. I had to give it some consideration, Holder added. They actually approached me yesterday, so it took a while for me to make up my mind and decide on it.

The West Indies 'B' team, participating in the championship for the second successive year, are a development side for Under-23 players around the region who are unable to make their national sides. But the WICB has once more opted for a seasoned player as captain. Former West Indies captain Richie Richardson led the team last year.

In this capacity, I'd be more there to advise granted that I'm going to have to field, bat and do whatever else, Holder said.

I wouldn't want to play the leading role. The tournament is more for the Under-23 people. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to guide them, hopefully along the same sort of lines that I've tried to do for Empire and the youth we have there.

Against the background that he has not been in serious training in recent weeks, his fitness may be tested. But at least he comes into the competition with the benefit of the full Division 1 season behind him in which he snared the most dismissals as a wicket-keeper.

I don't think I've been doing too much work, Holder admitted. Initially, it may be a bit of a problem. I'll just have to pace myself.

Holder, who made his first-class debut in 1986 while still a schoolboy at Combermere, was a seasoned Barbados player and national captain between 1992 and 1994 and again in 1999.

His appointment as West Indies 'B' captain presents him with the chance to achieve the landmark of playing 100 first-class matches. He goes into the tournament with 98 matches in which he has scored 5 550 runs (average 38.27), including 16 centuries and 23 half-centuries.

The Busta Series opens next week Friday, but the selection of the West Indies 'B' team has been delayed for various reasons. Their first match is against Bangladesh 'A', who arrive in Antigua on January 20.