Jason Holder leads from the front as West Indies bowl out England for 204 in first Test
Windies captain finishes with career best 6-42 at the Ageas Bowl
Having led his side in a poignant collective request for respect a day earlier, Jason Holder set about earning some personal appreciation, too, with a fine display on Day 2 of cricket’s return.
The West Indies captain took six for 42 as England were bowled out for 204 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
That represented career-best figures for someone who has taken Test cricket by storm over the past two years – almost entirely unnoticed.
When these two sides restarted cricket after a 117 days absence, it meant the world’s highest profile, most bankable, and most feted all-rounder would be in action again. And the world’s No 1 all-rounder is involved, too.
Given the difference in celebrity between the England captain Ben Stokes and his opposite number Holder, the fact the latter is out on his own at the top of the ICC all-rounder rankings might have evaded some.
Holder, in typically undemonstrative terms, acknowledged as much before this Test match.
“The ICC rankings say that I'm the No 1 ranked all-rounder and maybe don't get as much credit as probably I deserve, who knows?,” he said, before adding the rider, “I don’t get caught up with it to be honest.”
If this Test match is a showdown between the two captains, then Holder is going about it in the politest way possible.
By words, anyway. His bowling, by contrast, was meanness personified, as he strangled the England batting on a day when conditions supported his method.
Tellingly, his best delivery was reserved for Stokes, who top-scored with 43 before edging behind to a ball from Holder that seamed away just enough.
Given there is only a quarter of the job done for West Indies is done in this match, it was no surprise he betrayed no triumphalism when he was interviewed for TV last in the afternoon.
Instead, he focused on the fact he was returning to rhythm following an ankle injury that restricted him to just five overs in the one practice match West Indies had on arrival.
His most emotive words were in response to what had happened ahead of the start a day earlier.
With Holder leading the way, the tour party each wore a single glove on raised, clenched fists as both sides took a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement on Day 1 of the Test.
“It meant the world to me, just the support from everyone,” Holder said on his Sky Sports interview.
“Everyone understanding the moment and the occasion. To see both teams coming together as they did sent a really strong message.
“I happened to be on social media last night, and saw a few Aussies posting the same pic with everyone on their knee.
“It just shows the cricket world is unified. I think we could come a lot closer and do a lot more for cricket in general.
“I saw the interview with [Sky Sports commentator Michael Holding], and felt it in my veins to be honest. He was spot on.
“For me, it was more of an education. Guys need to make themselves aware of what is in front of us.
"There is a bigger picture than sport. In the grand scheme of things I think we need to be aware and educate ourselves.
“We need to have a level playing field for everyone.”
West Indies had reached 57-1 when bad light stopped play in the evening session.
Published: July 9, 2020 10:12 PM