Holder struggles again - Windies skipper yet to get going in pre-Test matches

By Sports Desk June 30, 2020

West Indies captain Jason Holder continues to struggle to shake off a bit of rust, or allay injury concerns, after being dismissed cheaply in the second and final intra-squad match at Emirates Old Trafford, on Tuesday.

This time around, the West Indies skipper made it to five, with his innings lasting just 13 deliveries.  The disappointment at the crease followed on the all-rounder’s golden duck in the first internal match that ended in a draw last week.

In addition to time away from the pitch, Holder has recently been bothered by what is thought to be a mild ankle injury.  Despite claims that he has not been hampered by it, Holder has looked less than comfortable at the crease.  In fact, he could have departed a lot sooner had Preston McSween held on to a relatively straightforward chance when the Windies skipper nudged the second ball of his innings to midwicket.  Holder had yet to score at the time.

Earlier, intermittent showers had wiped out the first four sessions of the four-day fixture but eased in time to allow play to start at 2:20 pm under lights.  Holder and Jermaine Blackwood were, unfortunately, part of a top-order collapse that saw Holder's side go from 79-1 to 108-5 against a Kraigg Brathwaite-led XI, before ending the day 120-5 when bad light stopped play.

 

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    West Indies racked up a 114-run first innings lead against England to take control of the first Test at the Rose Bowl on day three.

    Kraigg Brathwaite (65) and Shane Dowrich (61) led the way for the tourists, who benefitted from valuable contributions all the way down the order as they reached 318 all out on Friday.

    That was in stark contrast to England's efforts as they were skittled for 204, although openers Rory Burns and Dom Sibley dug in to negotiate a tricky evening stint and reach stumps at 15-0.

    Having made the most of bowling at England under leaden skies on Thursday, West Indies capitalised on the clouds parting to steadily compile a position of strength.

    Denied helpful overhead conditions, the home attack were confronted by a fairly benign surface – one that meant Jofra Archer being denied an lbw verdict against Shai Hope due to overstepping was an error they could ill afford.

    That moment in itself did not prove too costly as Hope was caught at slip by Ben Stokes for 16 after swiping at Dom Bess, the off-spinner who bowled tidily and also dismissed Jermaine Blackwood to claim 2-51.

    But Archer would end the innings wicketless, with stand-in skipper Stokes (4-49) and James Anderson (3-62) sharing seven scalps.

    Brathwaite could not turn his half-century into something more substantial, as he shuffled across to be trapped in front by Stokes, while Shamarh Brooks drove delightfully before edging Anderson behind to Jos Buttler for 39.

    Roston Chase took on the anchor role – in stark contrast to Blackwood's devil-may-care efforts – and was trapped on the crease by Anderson when three shy of a richly deserved fifty.

    Stokes removed opposite number Jason Holder cheaply and bowled Alzarri Joseph for a breezy 18, with Shannon Gabriel falling in similar fashion to Mark Wood.

    Dowrich, who punished the England pacemen whenever they erred in line or length, was the penultimate man to fall, edging Stokes through to Buttler.

    Gabriel, Holder and Kemar Roach found Burns and Sibley to be in resilient mood, although England will hope their hard yards have just begun.

     

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    Brathwaite had not passed 50 in 21 Test innings heading into the series opener, meaning the prospect of skilled seam attack in English conditions with a Dukes ball might have filled him with dread. If it did, it certainly did not show, as he masterfully laid a platform. The 27-year-old slightly opening his stance, allowing him to access the on-side and confidently play the in-swinger, looks a shrewd adjustment.

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    Historically, this rivalry has been dominated by West Indies pacemen, so there was obvious excitement around England fielding two men capable of frequently hitting 90 miles per hour and beyond. However, Wood and Archer turned in combined figures of 1-135. The pair will surely fire in tandem at Test level soon – maybe even in the second innings here – but their struggles jarred as a brooding Stuart Broad watched on from the sidelines.

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    The tourists lost Shamarh Brooks (39) and Jermaine Blackwood (12) soon after lunch to slip to 186-5 in reply to England's 204 all out, but recovered through Chase (27 not out) and Dowrich (30 not out) to be in a strong position to build a healthy lead at an empty Ageas Bowl.

    Captain Jason Holder fell for just five, holing out to his opposite number, Ben Stokes, who ended with figures of 4-49.

    Mark Wood finally got among the wickets to end with figures of 1-74.

    James Anderson was involved in both of the wickets in the second session, firstly finding Brooks' edge for a caught behind. Brooks decided to review but UltraEdge showed a clear nick.

    Five overs later, Anderson took a simple catch at mid-on to remove Blackwood, who tried to launch spinner Dom Bess into the deep.

    Anderson ended with 3-62 and Bess, 2-51.

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