West Indies v India, 3rd Test, St Lucia August 8, 2016

Holder focused on bowling, but maintains all-round ambitions

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'I'd love to bat up the order' - Holder

Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, has said he is focused on performing the role assigned to him in the side with bowling as his "first priority", but has admitted he would prefer batting higher up the order. Holder has taken 22 wickets in 15 Tests at an average of 44.27 and scored 675 runs at 29.34, with a century and four fifties. So far, he has played all his Tests as a bowling allrounder, and has never batted higher than No. 7.

In his most recent Test, against India in Kingston, Holder bowled 34.2 overs, conceding only 72 runs but picking up only one wicket, and scored an unbeaten 64 to help West Indies save the match on the last day.

"For me, I just try to do whatever the team requires," Holder said on the eve of the third Test against India in St Lucia. "Currently, I'm playing as a bowling allrounder, I think my first priority is to bowl. I was very pleased with the way I bowled in the last Test, particularly. I didn't think I got enough wickets, the wickets column wasn't as fruitful as I wanted it to be.

"Having said that, the beauty about my spell, for me, was remaining patient. I think on another day, you may get two or three more wickets. For me, [it's important] just contributing to the team's cause, just make sure every time I bat I score some runs, at least steady the ship. Most of the times, when I've batted in recent times, I've been under a bit of pressure, I think that brings out the best in me. I like those situations when I am being heavily relied on. You just knuckle down and play a memorable innings.

"Ideally, I would love to move up the order and bat higher up for the West Indies in the future. I guess I have to just keep doing my job and when I get the opportunity, make the most of it."

Expecting the pitch in St Lucia to provide pace and bounce, Holder said West Indies were likely to play an extra seam bowler.

"If you look at the pitch here, there seems to be a little bit of grass," Holder said. "There's a strong possibility that we may have a change in terms of our bowling department, we may think about the extra seamer. That's pretty much it.

"This wicket here, over the years, has played quicker than most pitches in the Caribbean. For me, I think it's the best cricket pitch in the Caribbean in terms of carry and assistance for the quicker bowlers. So, there's a strong possibility that you may see an extra seamer."

In West Indies' second innings in Jamaica, each of the batsmen occupying the four slots from No. 5 to No. 8 went past 50, with Roston Chase scoring an unbeaten hundred. The top order, though, failed - and not for the first time in the series - leaving West Indies 48 for 4 at one stage.

"For me, if I look back at the first two Test matches, the difference is that the top order hasn't really been getting in," Holder said. "I think they need to work a little harder in getting in. Once they get in, the likes of [Darren] Bravo and [Kraigg] Brathwaite and [Marlon] Samuels, we all know what they can do once they get a start. It's just about just getting a start, and get themselves going and carry it on from there."

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • mrhamilton on August 9, 2016, 15:14 GMT

    The comparison between Sammy and Holder is very very apt. Both have a real positive attitude proud of the windies past and play like it. They are probably the two best overall cricketers in the windies right now. Holder tho looks to be a level above or on his way there. Sammy really made the windies able to fight in sessions, and that ill fated tour to india in 2013 for sachins anniversary really did his and gibsons work in. when he left test cricket Sammy had been fast improving as a batsman. But the reality is Holder, Chase, and C Braithwaite are all a step up from him. U can add andre Russell to that. Windies are the most blessed country in the world for all rounders albeit these guys tend to be best in t20 and odi's

  • ADITO_SOZE on August 9, 2016, 10:03 GMT

    Agreed, Holder has far too much responsibility for his experience in international level, but it seems to get the best out of him. His spell of bowling against Rahane in the 1st session of Day 3 in the recent Kingston test was nothing short of extra ordinary.

    Rahane was definitely lucky to survive the spell, for a period of time he could not lay bat on ball as Holder constantly beat him.

    Holder will definitely get better with experience. But he needs better bowlers in the team and their top order batsmen should be more consistent to win tests.

  • keepcalmandslaptheumpire on August 9, 2016, 8:47 GMT

    I feel bad for Holder, he has far too much responsibility on his hands and he's a truly talented individual with little to no time to work on it due to captaincy. If he can average 35 with bat and 30 with ball I'm sure West Indies would be very happy with those returns. It's just about having more spice in his bowling, currently he's accurate and usually the most economical but he doesn't bowl too many wicket-taking deliveries. Just an upgraded version of Darren Sammy in test at the moment, but if he improves his bowling he could be a sort of Shaun Pollock allrounder for West Indies.

  • shammyrocks on August 9, 2016, 8:30 GMT

    An ideal player to lead the country in all formats..

  • silentassassin_88 on August 9, 2016, 6:23 GMT

    Holder should efficiently use his non-bowling arm to generate more pace. He could be 140k bowler if he uses his non-bowling arm .

  • SamRoy on August 9, 2016, 5:02 GMT

    @StarvyBZ You are right. Holder is a 130k swing bowler. Can swing it both ways especially outswing to right handers. Should do well in England. But he needs to pitch the ball further up like Praveen Kumar did in 2011 England and WI tour. Otherwise will have more plays and misses rather than actual wickets.

  • Starvybz on August 9, 2016, 3:58 GMT

    Holder's bowling is highly underrated. He is very potent in swinging conditions. Pakistan's capitulation at the 2015 World Cup is testament to that ability. The best I've seen him bowl in tests was in the final match against New Zealand in their recent tour of the West Indies. Had Mcullum guessing in and out swingers quite a bit. His mini-batting cameos have depreciated since that tour to Sri Lanka, needs to work on that. If he were to be relieved of his responsibility as captain, he'd become an even better player. It will be quite interesting to see his performance in the pink ball tests in the U.A.E and the upcoming tour of England. If he doesn't take a minimum of ten wickets in England, then something definitely went wrong(either that or West Indies found a total lower than zero).

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