Match Analysis

Composed Holder shows the way

With Jason Holder in the side, there is hope that West Indies could return to a time when success was measured not by bling or bank balance, not by strutting or swagger, but by deeds on the pitch.

Jason Holder leaves the field beaming after his maiden Test century saved the match, West Indies v England, 1st Test, North Sound, 5th day, April 17, 2015

Jason Holder's maiden century ensured a draw for West Indies  •  Getty Images

This is why Jason Holder was appointed West Indies' ODI captain. He may only be 23, he may only have been playing his fourth Test, but here, in Antigua, he produced a display of leadership that many of his more experienced team-mates would do well to emulate.
It wasn't so much the class of Holder's shots that stood out; impressive though the back-foot drives, the lofted straight drives and the tight defence were.
It was more the composure. On a fifth day pitch, against a pair of seamers with well over 600 Test wickets between them, with a Test to save and his top-order colleagues gone, he seemed to revel in the pressure. This was his first Test century; there will surely be more.
There have been signs of such willingness to embrace responsibility before. Not only did he accept the captaincy of a weakened team ahead of the World Cup - an almost impossible challenge - but he also accepted the burden of bowling at the death.
He knew his own figures would be tarnished by the role. And he knew he could, as other captains have done before him, have hidden himself from the worst of the fray and protected his own analysis.
But that is not Holder's way. So, against South Africa, after conceding only nine runs from his first five overs, he brought himself back at the end of the innings with arguably the world's most destructive ODI batsman - AB de Villiers - at the crease.
Holder's final two overs cost an eye-watering 64 runs and left him with an ugly and unwanted record: no one has conceded more than the 104 runs he was plundered for in a World Cup match.
The episode showed he had a little to learn about death bowling, perhaps, but it also showed a selflessness, a bravery, a willingness to lead that was admirable.
Those in Barbados who know Holder best - and Ezra Moseley, the former West Indies seamer, has been a pivotal figure in his development - will not be surprised by this innings. He was always seen as a batting allrounder growing up and his leadership qualities were recognised when he was appointed captain first of Barbados U19 and then, briefly, West Indies U19.
His batting ability may, in time, allow West Indies to go into a Test with a stronger, five-man bowling attack. If he could have batted at No. 6 or No. 7 in this game, West Indies could have played another seamer, or perhaps spinner, and used their strike bowlers in shorter bursts.
But Holder's excellence with the bat will mask - to some extent - the recklessness of some of his colleagues.
For while Holder batted as if his life depended on saving the game, Marlon Samuels batted as if he had something better to do in edging a wide delivery to slip. While Holder batted with a composure that belied his tender years, Devon Smith - a decade his senior - batted with the naivety of a schoolboy in driving to mid-on. And while Holder batted with the discipline and denial of a high-quality Test batsman, Jermaine Blackwood batted with the disregard for conventional technique of a man in the last over of a T20 run chase in charging down the pitch and trying to slog through midwicket.
Allowances can be made for Blackwood, in particular. He is a couple of weeks younger than Holder and, as a natural strokemaker learning his trade, it is inevitable that mistakes will occur. As his captain, Denesh Ramdin said, "he'll learn from the experience".
But Samuels' failure is more troubling. He had already survived a missed stumping opportunity after attempting a repeat of a lofted drive that carried for six off James Tredwell. So to continue to bat in such loose style was something of a dereliction of duty from a team perspective.
To Samuels' credit, he apologised to the team in the dressing room. But it remains infuriating that a man so obviously blessed averages just 35.55 in Test cricket. Not only was his batting inappropriate in the circumstances, it was against team orders. West Indies were not pursuing a victory target.
"There were some shots there that were really disappointing," Ramdin admitted afterwards. "They weren't called for at the time.
"Devon could have gone on to get a hundred and the game could have been different. We need those batsmen who get in to go on and make big scores. It's very important, to create the belief, that we can win games
"It was important we set up the game in the first hour. We needed not to lose early wickets. But it didn't go as well as we planned. The guys apologised to the team for it."
There were other positives for West Indies. Antigua had to bid $US500,000 to host this match but the game generated the highest attendance figure for a Test on the island; the old ground may have seemed busier, but it had a smaller capacity. Meanwhile Jerome Taylor out-bowled his England counterparts with the new ball, Smith made his highest score for almost a decade (November 2005) and Blackwood showed he is a talent worth perseverance. Kemar Roach also enjoyed a good game and, by accompanying Holder for more than 50 deliveries, showed admirable character. Around such men, West Indies can build with some guarded optimism.
Furthermore, West Indies have seen many of their proud records slip away in recent years, but at least they can say they have still never lost to England in Antigua. And, for the first time since 2009 - and the last time they held out for a draw against England in Antigua - they had batted for more than 100 overs in the fourth innings of a Test.
From a negative point of view, the bowling of Sulieman Benn was disappointing and there were times in the field on the fourth day when the bowling and, in particular, the fielding became quite ragged.
But Ramdin, whose own batting was also impressive, was in buoyant mood at the end.
"This is a fantastic boost," he said. "The draw feels good. Our confidence is up and we've continued that tradition of not losing a Test in Antigua.
It was an understandable reaction. If nothing else, the continued development of Holder suggested that Phil Simmons' pre-match cry for the team to play with "discipline and pride" did not fall on completely deaf ears.
West Indies may have a long way to go before they reclaim a place in the top three of the Test rankings - which is Simmons' aim - but with Holder in the side, there is hope that they are returning to a time when success was measured not by bling or bank balance, not by strutting or swagger, but by deeds on the pitch.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo