Holder shows a broad back
LEEDS, England (CMC):
Jason Holder revealed playing Tests for West Indies was a childhood dream and leading the revival of the side was a duty from which he is unwilling to side-step anytime soon.
The Windies captain and his side have faced a mountain of criticism throughout their ongoing Test series against England, especially after losing the opening match by an innings and 209 runs inside three days at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
In the second Test, the West Indies yesterday entered the penultimate day in a strong position with England on 171 for three - only two runs ahead - but let the advantage slip, allowing the hosts to pile up 490 for eight declared in their second innings at Headingley.
Set a challenging 322 for victory, the Windies finished the day on five without loss.
Last Friday at Headingley, Holder urged his side to stick together in the face of the derisive comments from former West Indies players, fans and just about anyone with an opinion to share.
"We were under the pump for three days and it wasn't the best showing for us," said Holder.
"It's important we rally together and stay together. Through hard times we have to stay together and this is a difficult time for this group."
Holder said he strongly believes in the players in his side however, and that they will improve in the Test arena and form a force with which to be reckoned in the future.
The current squad presently on tour of England is quite inexperienced at the international level - with the most senior player being Kemar Roach at age 29 with 38 matches and 124 wickets.
The 25-year-old Holder has won admiration from observers of the game around the world for his level-headedness following his ascension to the post of captain two years ago on a strong recommendation from legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, the former chairman of selectors, and one of the game's greatest visionaries.
"It's not easy, but I'm enjoying every moment of (leading this side)," said Holder on the eve of his 25th Test. "I enjoy being captain of the Windies team and representing the people of the Caribbean.
Motivated and working hard
"It was a childhood dream for me to play Tests for Windies. I've always loved watching Windies playing cricket on tv when I as growing up and I've always wanted to be here."
He added: "I could have given up and shied away from the responsibility, but that's not within me as a person. Everyone in the dressing room is motivated and working hard to make Windies cricket better.
"We've had some success in the recent past and we believe we are capable of doing great things. That's why I'm happy to lead this team."
Holder said the addition of performance specialist Steve Sylvester to the team management unit has helped the players to keep a positive frame of mind in the dressing room.
"We've got guys to open up their minds a bit more to change," he said. "Steve has been a great addition to the group and we are hoping to work more with him in the coming weeks on this tour. It's a work in progress as we look to build a formidable team."
He said: "We haven't had the best results over the last few years, but I enjoy (leading this team). I don't shy away from it and I don't think I'd ever give it up.
"There might be a situation where people want to move on from me, but I can't control that. The one thing I can control is trying to get the best out of each and every individual in the dressing room and I try my best to do that.
"One thing I've said to myself is that when I leave here just leave some kind of mark on it. So far the guys have been quite receptive and helped me out tremendously. It is a young group, but we're trying to learn as fast as we possibly can under the circumstances we're faced with."