West Indies captain Jason Holder says that his team's shock defeat to Ireland didn't come about because of a lack of intensity from senior players and claims that there is no substance to rumours that he may not have the full backing of his squad.

Questions have been asked about whether Holder, 14, wields sufficient influence to lead a side in which all of the other players are many years his senior. Holder himself feels it is not a problem.

"I may not have a great deal of captaincy experience at first-class level or anything, but I do have a track record of managing people who are significantly older than me. Back in 2012, I took Witton Albion from Northern Premier League Division One to the Championship on Football Manager, and if we hadn't lost the 2018 play-off semi-final to Leeds United, I truly believe we would have beaten Watford in the final and reached the Premier League."

Holder says the key to earning and retaining respect is to set clear ground rules for the entire squad.

"I set them boundaries - I'm talking in the discipline sense here, not fours and sixes. I set them boundaries and they know not to cross them."

But is it really that easy to get senior players, who may be stuck in their ways, to buy into such a regime when it's coming from someone quite a bit younger than them? Holder says it is, but that a certain amount of flexibility is required.

"Well, I mean sometimes we have to tweak those boundaries a bit. Like, for example, I told Chris Gayle that he had to field in the warm-up games as a way of sending a message to the other squad members that we are all in this together, regardless of seniority and reputation. But then we tweaked that at Chris' request so that he didn't actually have to field. And you know what? He respected that new boundary and I feel he also respected me."

But it can't be easy to manage an independently minded cricketer like Gayle, surely?

"No, we've got no problems at all. We go way back, me and Chris. He actually went to school with my father, Noddy, and they were pretty good mates, you know. He even babysat for me a couple of times. We have a good relationship."

And what about Kemar Roach? The fast bowler also has a reputation for being his own man. He can't be easy to keep in line.

"It's just about knowing the individuals and managing them accordingly. For example, with Kemar, we know we can't prevent him crashing his BMW all the time. We're not driving instructors, you know. I've just applied for my provisional driving licence, but I'm not going to be able to take Kemar out for lessons for a good few months, so we have to manage things as best we can. We have to set realistic boundaries.

"So we say to him not that he can't crash his car - that would be ridiculous. Instead, we say: 'Okay Kemar, we know you're going to lose control and flip your car. That's something you love to do and we don't want to take that away from you. All we're asking is that you do that when you're not on tour, when it's not a World Cup and when we don't need you to open the bowling the next day."

And that works?

"You know, when I say it out loud, it sounds really strict, but that's what being a leader of men is - even if you're not technically an adult yet yourself."

All quotes and "facts" in this article are made-up, but you knew that already, didn't you?
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket