West Indies v South Africa: Holder still adapting after losing Test captaincy

By Sports Desk June 09, 2021

Jason Holder admitted it has been difficult to adapt to a new role in the West Indies Test side, after the captaincy was handed to Kraigg Brathwaite.

Holder opted not to tour Bangladesh in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Brathwaite filling in as captain.

Brathwaite subsequently retained the leadership role for the home series against Sri Lanka in March, and the batsman will again be captain for South Africa's tour of the Caribbean.

It was a decision that came as a surprise to Holder – who had been captain since 2015 – though the 29-year-old is now hoping he can use the opportunity to focus more on his own game.

"It was kind of a shock. Yeah, still lost for words in regards to that, but I am not dwelling on it. I don't think it's something I should dwell on, to be fair," Holder told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the first Test of the two-match series, which starts on Thursday.

"Yeah, it's been difficult. I probably may not show it, but it has been difficult.

"For the last five-six years, I've been captaining West Indies, whether that be Test-match cricket or one-day cricket. So now being relieved of both captaincies, it has been a strange transition for me personally."

Holder had some fine individual moments during his captaincy, though in total only managed 11 Test wins, compared to 21 defeats.

"I am just trying to find ways to move on and transition back to just being a regular player. For me now, it's about showing a bit more of my character, and being a lot more… I would say outspoken. I am relatively outspoken, but just expressing myself a little bit more and having fun," he added.

"I feel as though I have been really, really committed to West Indies cricket – I am still committed to West Indies cricket, but more or less for me now it's just about having fun and enjoying however many days I have playing international cricket.

"There is a lot less pressure, a lot less responsibility. It's just about me now personally… I'm 100 per cent a team man. So I'll play my part to help the team and if there are other players who are seeking out advice or guidance, no doubt I'll be here to give them that."

The Proteas, meanwhile, are set to hand a debut to Keegan Petersen, who has drawn the praises of new Test captain Dean Elgar.

"I've been nervous for a while now," said Petersen, who is likely to replace the retired Faf du Plessis.

"It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill. Anyone would be nervous. This is what we dream of as kids and eventually when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock."

BLACKWOOD CLOSING IN ON MILESTONE

Jermaine Blackwood could well be crucial if the Windies are to pull off a series victory this month, though they do face a South Africa team who have lost their last nine Tests as tourists.

He needs just 55 runs to bring up 2,000 in total in Test cricket, having averaged 37 from his 67 innings so far. Blackwood and the likes of Shai Hope and Kieran Powell – who have earned recalls – will need to be wary, however, with South Africa's bowling strike rate of 52.2 in Tests since 2018 ranking them behind only India (47.8).

Teenager bowler Jayden Seales, meanwhile, will be looking to make an impact on his debut.

TIME FOR RABADA TO CLICK BACK INTO GEAR

Only one pace bowler has taken more wickets than South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (202) in men's Tests since his debut in November 2015 (Stuart Broad – 203).

Rabada averages 23.4 and has a strike rate of 41.7 across 82 innings, but as of late the burden of carrying South Africa's attack appeared to have dragged him down prior to an 18-month COVID-19 enforced lay off for the team.

While questions remain over the rest of South Africa's pace attack, the tourists need Rabada to step up and deliver at his best. A five-for would be a good start – he has not taken one since March 2018 against Australia.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first time West Indies play South Africa in a men's Test since January 2015 – the Windies are winless in their last eight Tests against the Proteas (D2 L6).
- South Africa have won all their eight men’s Test series against the West Indies so far, four of which were won away in the Caribbean.
- West Indies have a win and two losses at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium in men's Tests, the remaining four matches they have played at this venue ended in a draw.
- Quinton de Kock has dropped nine catches since 2019 in Test cricket; the only wicketkeeper to drop more catches during this period is India's Rishabh Pant (12).
- West Indies are unbeaten in their last four Tests (W2 D2); however, they lost their four such matches prior to this run.

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