West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Jamaica, 3rd day June 13, 2015

Holder overcomes verbal barrage

Play 02:46
'My mental game is improving each day' - Jason Holder

Jason Holder's toughness was on display twice on day three. First of all he demonstrated it in the morning with an innings of real chutzpah, taking West Indies past the follow-on by clattering Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon with fearless intent as well as the natural leverage provided by his considerable height.

An equally striking impression was to be provided at day's end when Holder spoke about the series and his encounters with an Australian side seldom shy of being aggressive in word and deed. Holder was harried by both these avenues throughout his 82, but spoke boldly of how much he enjoyed the verbal sparring.

He even went as far as saying there should be more of it at international level, and that he had fed on it for motivation across both these Test matches. Holder is clearly made of stern stuff, and has earned the respect of his Australian opponents for the way he has carried himself in a pair of lopsided contests.

"You get a lot of chirping - they're that type of team," Holder said of Australia. "They're always at you, whether they're bowling or just at you verbally. You expect that from the Australians, and that's what they thrive on, so for me personally I just try to stay in the game and try to feed off it as much as possible.

"I think they get tired at some stage. But there's always someone in your ear at some stage of the game. But I love it, that's cricket. I don't think it would be international cricket without it, it's something that should be done more often - obviously in a very discreet way - and I think that's part of the game and I look forward to it. There's always a chance for us to give it, and that's cricket, you give it and you get it."

Holder's attitude is also typified by the way he has taken on whatever role the captain Denesh Ramdin has set out for him. Based on technique and temperament there is plenty of evidence to suggest Holder should be batting higher up the order than No. 7, but he did not complain about a posting that left him stranded 18 runs short of a hundred when Hazlewood winkled out the last two wickets.

"It's whatever the team requires," he said. "I'm pretty much able to do whatever the team wants me to do and I'm one of those players who tries not to give up and try to give a big effort whatever. If the captain decides that he needs me up the order I'll do it.

"I back my technique. It's more mental than anything. I just need to apply myself more mentally to get through any situation. The Australians as a team come at you really hard and I think once you get over the chirp from the boys, it's a lot easier as it goes on.

"My mental game is improving each game. It's been very tough physically, I've been going since November last year, we've been playing cricket straight through. So it's been pretty taxing on the body and a challenge to motivate myself day in, day out. But I can say one thing that's improving is my mental game and I'm very pleased that I can stand here today after each day's play still standing."

Towards the end of a season that also featured Holder leading the ODI team to the World Cup down under amid a hail of criticism about team selections, he said he took great encouragement from the words of the latest ICC Hall of Fame inductee Wes Hall in his speech at the WIPA awards before this match. Hall's resilience and energy have stayed with Holder, who showed similar qualities at Sabina Park on day three.

"It was very inspirational for me," he said. "He's one of the few people who could talk for a very long time and still draw your attention. It's not the first time I've sat and heard him speak. He's very inspirational for me, and to see the things he's achieved and the path he's taken in life is just inspirational for me. You can take a lot from it."

Spoken like a future Test captain.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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