Holder focuses on setting benchmark for Test team
Jason Holder has said that setting a standard for performance within the team will be his first priority when he takes charge as West Indies' Test captain on the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka. Holder, who replaced Denesh Ramdin as Test captain earlier this month, said West Indies could not afford to fall below their eighth position on the ICC Test rankings, and the only way to move forward was through consistency and players understanding their respective roles.
"The first thing we need to do is set a standard in the dressing room where we don't fall below [our current ranking]," Holder said in his first media conference after his appointment as Test captain.
"I have had a lot of discussion with the coach about [that]. It is important that we set the standards, so guys know where we are at the moment, what is the benchmark and know that we just can't fall below that. Once you do that and we get players to buy into that theory then moving forward should be a lot easier."
The strife within West Indies cricket is well known and documented, but Holder has been given charge of a team that the current WICB selection panel believes will play for a long time. Holder stressed that it is important for the team to learn from past mistakes.
"In the past, we have been a bit haywire where we have not been settled in a sense where we have a standard," he said. "We have encountered with a lot of hiccups here and there. Once we could clarify the whole situation, as to what is required as an international cricketer and we set the standard, then it should be a lot easy going forward."
At 23, Holder is one of the youngest Test captains in the history of the game, but the allrounder remains undaunted by the challenge. Despite various responsibilities - as a leader, strike bowler and lower-order batsman - Holder is optimistic about his appointment as Test captain. The basis of his confidence is the experience he has gained leading West Indies youth teams and Barbados as well as the West Indies ODI side. Holder was given charge of the one-day side in December 2014.
"It is about translating that into the Test arena now. I am not, in a sense, new to it," he said. "It is something that I have handled in the past. I don't expect to falter in this arena. I am really looking forward to it."
Holder stated that building relationships and moving forward as a collective unit is one of his aims. This, he said, was something he learned from his predecessor Ramdin, who led West Indies in 13 Tests.
"One thing I take from his leadership style is the relationship he built with other players," Holder said. "He is pretty vocal in the dressing room. And he has had a relatively good relation with most players. It goes a little bit further than that: you have to produce on the field and you have to get the best out of your team-mates. If I could just take it a step further and lead from where he left off, that is the direction I look to go in."
Holder admitted it was "disheartening" for West Indies to miss out on a place in the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, but said there were opportunities in the near future for the team to bounce back.
"Obviously we would like steady progression but we can't jump ahead of teams who are higher ranked than us unless we play higher-ranked sides in terms of the points system," Holder said. "If you look at your schedule, we have Sri Lanka, India in the new year (2016) and Australia end of year (2015). The thing is not to fall further down from where we are at this present point. You can jump hell of a lot further up the channel if you beat these teams which are ranked higher than you."
Holder said he and Phil Simmons, the West Indies coach, believed the most important thing was to instill consistency within the team and help players understand their roles.
"We need to instill consistency in the dressing room and get the guys understanding what is required of them in terms of roles, in terms of different scenarios which they might face in certain games," he said. "Myself and the coach have a pretty good idea of the direction we want to go in. I guess we will make a little tinker here and there as we go and make the progression. But I am sure once you do the right things, once you set things in terms of a good dressing room, then we can make that progression steadily upwards."