Chief selector Roger Harper has praised deposed captain Jason Holder’s attitude during the recent Sri Lanka series, contending the all-rounder had been “exemplary” in his approach and a source of inspiration for his teammates.
The 29-year-old Holder was sacked as captain prior to the series and replaced by fellow Barbadian Kraigg Brathwaite, but remained a key figure throughout the two-Test rubber which ended in a nil-all stalemate on Good Friday.
He averaged 69 with the bat while scoring an unbeaten half-century in the second Test, and also finished the series with seven wickets after taking a five-wicket haul in the first innings of the opening Test.
“I thought Jason performed very well. He got a five-wicket haul in the first Test match and then of course the [71 not out] in the last innings as well,” Harper pointed out.
“But even more than his performance was the way he went about his business. I think from watching him in the nets and on the field you always heard him encouraging the players, trying to lift the guys and keep them really in high spirits.
“He’s been the livewire. He’s really handled things very well and in an exemplary fashion, and has continued to be the type of leader we know someone with his experience can be and that’s important for the team.”
One of the youngest ever Windies Test captains when he was appointed at age 23, Holder led West Indies in 37 of his 47 Tests – winning 11, losing 21 and drawing five games.
His captaincy came under intense scrutiny following the side’s heavy defeats in New Zealand last December and his fate was sealed when he skipped the tour of Bangladesh earlier this year and stand-in skipper Brathwaite inspired a severely weakened side to a 2-0 whitewash.
Harper said the decision to remove Holder as captain had been a sober one but had also been necessary in helping to maintain the new culture formed in Bangladesh.
“It was a decision that took a lot of thought, a lot of deliberation,” the former Guyana and West Indies off-spinner told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show.
“But I think the sort of spirit we saw in Bangladesh – the performance of course made a big difference – but the sort of spirit, the sort of fight, the sort of determination we saw in that team, we wanted that to continue so that really influenced our decision.”
Brathwaite, however, appeared fired up by the mantle of leadership and broke a long drought to post his first Test century in three years, en route to gathering 237 runs at an average of 59.
The hundred – 126 in the first innings of the second Test – was his ninth overall and saw him become the 16th West Indies batsman to pass 4 000 runs in the longest format.
Performance apart, Harper said Brathwaite’s willingness to be innovative especially on the flat wickets at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in Antigua, made his captaincy stand out.
“I think that Kraigg has done a good job in this series. I think the pitch as you know has been very flat but what you saw from Kraigg was his willingness to try different things,” Harper stressed.
“A willingness not just to sit back but a willingness to try things to see if they [could] create opportunities and that’s a positive going forward. I think with Kraigg as well, you see a lot more of the team involved in supporting so that’s good.” (CMC)