West Indies v India, 1st Test, Antigua, 4th day July 25, 2016

'I don't think we executed well enough' - Holder

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We need to get more partnerships upfront - Holder

Following his unbeaten 51 in the second innings of the Antigua Test against India, Carlos Brathwaite's Test record looked like this: five innings, three half-centuries, a batting average of 45.25. Any specialist batsman would be proud of numbers like that, but Brathwaite isn't a specialist batsman. He has batted no higher than No. 8 so far, and his primary role in the West Indies team is to bowl seam.

At the end of the Antigua Test, Brathwaite had taken only one wicket in his three Tests, at an average of 242.00.

Jason Holder, West Indies' captain, has played 14 Tests. He has scored one hundred, three fifties, and averages 27.18 with the bat - perfectly good returns for a lower-order batsman, but, like Brathwaite, his primary job is bowling. At the end of the Antigua Test, he had taken 21 wickets at an average of 42.95 and a strike rate of 93.9.

In Antigua, Holder and Brathwaite weren't third and fourth seamers. They were, respectively, new-ball bowler and first-change. Between them, they finished with figures of 0 for 163 in 49 overs in India's only innings.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, ESPNcricinfo's expert analyst on the tour, had suggested on Saturday that West Indies were misusing the talents of Holder and Brathwaite. Taking the example of Ravi Shastri, who began his career primarily as a left-arm spinner but ended up as more of a top-order batsman than a bowler, Manjrekar suggested that West Indies push both up the order and pick an extra fast bowler to strengthen their bowling.

Speaking to the media after West Indies' innings-and-92-run loss inside four days, Holder defended West Indies' selection, and said it was the execution of the bowling attack's plans that had gone wrong, and not its composition.

"In hindsight you can say a lot of things," Holder said. "The combination we played had four bowlers and an allrounder in Roston Chase, who bowls some offspin. But execution is the name of the game. I don't think we executed well enough."

Holder's answer did not stop further questions about West Indies' bowling attack. Asked specifically about his own bowling, and that of Brathwaite, he said they weren't necessarily West Indies' strike bowlers, and that their role was instead to hold an end up and build pressure by drying up the runs.

"To be honest, myself and Carlos are going up to a certain point in terms of what our roles are, bowling areas together and pick up one or two wickets," he said. "But if runs are leaking from both ends, primarily from the other end, it makes cricket a little easier for batsmen.

"Having said that, we tried to get some wickets. But it just didn't come together. There is no doubt we need to take some wickets going forward into the next Test match. You must give the Indian batsmen credit. [Virat] Kohli and [R] Ashwin played well. We put Ashwin down. Had we taken that chance you never know [what] the game could have brought. It's cricket again. Just need to hold our chances in terms of Carlos, me and other bowlers. Just make sure we chip in."

Eventually, while maintaining that execution was the biggest issue in the Antigua Test, he conceded that West Indies may have needed to play another bowler.

"In cricket, it's down to execution," he said. "We need to execute as bowlers. [In earlier matches], we have played five bowlers. To me, in this day and age, you need an extra bowler. But, having said that, it still boils down to execution. You can play five bowlers, you can play four bowlers, but if you don't execute at the end of the day you will still be at the first stage."

Jason Holder: "You can play five bowlers, you can play four bowlers but if you don't execute at the end of the day you will still be at the first stage." © Associated Press

With West Indies only managing totals of 243 and 231 on a good batting surface, Holder said the batsmen hadn't strung together enough partnerships.

"We tend to get 20-30-run partnerships but haven't been able to convert it to 50 and then onwards," he said. "Test cricket is about occupying the crease and spending time, but we never showed up for long periods. Some players got starts but were not able to kick on. It's important for one of the top four batsmen to actually set the tone.

"In the first innings, Kraigg Brathwaite did a decent job of it, but we were not able to string together partnerships upfront and set up a good foundation for a good first-innings total. And we were playing catch-up from there."

It would be important for senior batsmen such as Darren Bravo, who failed in both innings, and Marlon Samuels, who scored a half-century in the second innings, to lead the batting unit going forward in the series, Holder said.

"Ideally that's what we would expect from top-order batsmen," he said. "To be fair, they have to carry the demands of this young batting side. Unfortunately, Bravo didn't get any runs in this Test. Marlon showed some form in the second innings. Important for those two guys to carry the batting and lay the foundation. But I couldn't agree more with you that the onus is on them. Having said that, we have more than enough capable batsmen."

Given the inexperience running through the side, Holder felt it was important for the players to have "personal pride" in order to lift themselves up from the defeat.

"I think it boils down to personal pride," he said. "Roston, Shane [Dowrich] and [Rajendra] Chandrika, myself, [Jermaine] Blackwood are quite young players. We are all looking to make a mark in the international circuit. For us it's just personal glory, personal pride. Just execute and performing well, you know, having a good Test career.

"That's what each person coming to Test cricket is looking to do. I think all of us want to do that. I think we need to come up with a strong collective effort. As I said we just need to execute, stick together, look at our weak areas, strengths as well, and try make those stronger. In terms of the weaker areas, just tighten up on them."

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • trevor on July 28, 2016, 5:50 GMT

    Blackwood bats as a specialist along with Bravo, Samuels and Dowrich at the no. 6 position; His job is to shepherd the lower order batting-Try as I might I find it very difficult to play Holder and Brathwaite in the same team,Holder needs to consider relinquishing the captaincy of the test team to K Brathwaite-he seems to be more of a batting all rounder whose game has suffered because of the weight of the captaincy.

  • ashok on July 27, 2016, 0:11 GMT

    "to hold up and build pressure" - this is possible only for certain spells not through out the test! Bowlers should attack in packs and in spells just like how India and England are doing it. 1st innings Ashwin was holding up and Umesh was swinging it. 2nd test Ashwin was getting the wickets when Ishant and Yadav were controlling the runs...

  • smanra4343103 on July 26, 2016, 21:16 GMT

    There are a lot of things the WI can work on: 1. Jason Houlder loves the game and has the right attitude but not enough experience - the guys on the field cannot look to him for guidance and this shows....badly. I am not sure why he is picked but it is most likely his enthusiasm, since his bowling leaves a lot to be desired 2. Shane Dowrich is an untidy keeper and he should be reminded this is his primary job - I cannot see why Ramdin could be dropped in favour of him and having Ramdin there serves 2 roles for both points 1 and 2 3. I love the heart Carlos Brathwaite displays - he could teach Shannon Gabriel a thing or 2 but he needs to improve his bowling ASAP. I believe that a more experienced capaigner like Ravi Rampaul or the hard working Sheldon Cottrell or Krishmar Santokie bring that X-Factor that trouble batsmen 4. Darren Bravo needs to focus - losing his wicket cheaply shows a lack of respect for his fans 5. An experienced batsman or allrounder (Bravo/Sammy) reaquired ASAP

  • Sajeesh on July 26, 2016, 20:03 GMT

    WI team should be 1) Kraigg Brathwaite 2) Kieran Powell 3) Darren Bravo 4) Marlon Samuels 5) Roston Chase 6) Carlos Brathwaite 7) Shane Dowrich (wk) 8) Jason Holder (c) 9) Devendra Bishoo 10) Shannon Gabriel 11) Miguel Cummins. This seems to be a balanced 11 with two genuine pace bowlers in Gabriel and Cummins, two medium pace bowlers in Carlos and Holder and two spin options in Bishoo and Chase. Included Chase as he is having one of the better FC batting averages among recent WI batsmen. Also, Kieren Powell is way better than Chandrika and he is experienced too.

  • Len on July 26, 2016, 12:55 GMT

    If Holder thinks he and Carlos Brathwaite are there to "Hold an end up and build pressure by drying up runs" then they both should be dropped from the team. To win in Tests, you need a bowling attack that can take 20 wickets, so it is thoroughly pointless having 2 main bowlers in your attack who are not there to take wickets. Not that the WIndian selectors will do anything, because they seem to enjoy WIndies ritual humiliation whether home or abroad, but someone who cares should grab Holder and tell him that at 6ft7, he should stop bowling that medium pace dobber rubbish and start to learn how to bowl fast or get rid of him (I don't care about his late order runs as we're always out of the match so it does not count). As for Brathwaite, drop him, he bowls medium pace nonsense which takes no wickets and slogs his way to 20s and 30s after being dropped at least 3 times.

  • jaswant on July 26, 2016, 3:55 GMT

    "I don't think we executed well enough". This statement is most disgusting. Holder speaks like a second grader. He is full of talks which himself and company cannot support. Their performance lack everything,so I don't understand "well enough". They were thrashed in every department. This seems to be a glimpse of what is to come. To Mr Holder,"Well done is better than well said". Keep a tight lip and let the people talk.

  • Patrick on July 25, 2016, 22:38 GMT

    @SHAWNBOOMBOOMDEODAT Lots of ideas but no proposed solution. Who e.g. is your experienced middle order batsman? They have done well to pick Chase - he averages 40 plus in FC cricket which not a lot of the other batsman can say. What is lacking is the bowling, Cummins should definitely play in Kingston and they need another fast bowler, possibly Alzarri Joseph. Johnson should open with Kraig B instead of Chandrika. The problem is who to drop, Carlos or Holder? I agree the experiment didn't work but I am talking of something else.

  •   Mg Gm on July 25, 2016, 19:00 GMT

    Holder was right from selection point of view. Ask the selectors to talk to Chandrapual, Sarwan if they can play again for WI. If yes, WI will be still better. Remove Holder as a Captain and consider him as Batsman.

  • Shekar on July 25, 2016, 17:41 GMT

    Chandrika averages 25 in over 70 fc innings with the bat as a specialist opener..... Ashwin averages 33 in TEST CRICKER with the bat as a frontline bowler..... that is the gap between these 2 teams

  • tajeram on July 25, 2016, 14:24 GMT

    The WI selectors needs to realize the experiment didn't work. Chandrika needs to be replaced now, along with blackwood, Chase. Send then to the A team for more experience. Bring in another quick bowler, along with Johnson. WI desperately needs an experience middle order batsman. The selectors needs to bring someone in who can solely bat responsibly like Misba , or Voges, someone with experience for all these youngesters to bat around.

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