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.

Related items

  • MLB playoffs 2021: Astros reach World Series at Red Sox's expense MLB playoffs 2021: Astros reach World Series at Red Sox's expense

    Yordan Alvarez was the hero as the Houston Astros topped the Boston Red Sox 5-0 to advance to the MLB World Series.

    Alvarez drove in the opening run before scoring to double the lead in the sixth inning to fuel the Astros in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Friday.

    The Astros sealed the ALCS pennant 4-2 and their first World Series berth since 2019 – third in five years – thanks to Kyler Tucker's three-run homer in the eighth inning.

    Houston will face either the Atlanta Braves or defending champions the Los Angeles Dodgers for their second MLB crown and first since 2017.

    ALCS MVP Alvarez – the fifth Astros player with a four-hit game in a potential postseason clincher – set the tone in Houston, where he doubled to deep centre, allowing Alex Bregman to score in the first inning.

    The tense battle continued before Tucker's grounded into double play at first as Alvarez scored to make it 2-0.

    With the Red Sox trying to avoid elimination, the Astros put the result beyond doubt behind Tucker's 357-foot shot in the bottom of the eighth, with Alvarez and Carlos Correa also scoring.

    Alvarez (.522) ended the series with the highest batting average in the ALCS, eclipsing Kevin Youkilis (.500 in 2007).

    Luis Garcia starred on the mound, allowing just one hit in 5.2 innings while striking out seven batters.

    Houston's Dusty Baker is heading back to the World Series for the first time in 19 years – the only manager to go longer between consecutive World Series appearances was Bucky Harris (1925 with the Senators then 1947 with the Yankees).

    Baker will be aged 72 years and 133 days old for Game 1 of the World Series, the second oldest manager to reach the Fall Classic behind only Jack McKeon (73 years and 329 days in 2003).

     

    Dodgers at Braves

    The Braves can secure a date with the Astros when they host the Dodgers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) on Saturday. Atlanta lead 3-2.

  • Barella and Lautaro close to extending Inter deals as Marotta says Lukaku joined Chelsea for money Barella and Lautaro close to extending Inter deals as Marotta says Lukaku joined Chelsea for money

    Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said star duo Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez will extend their contracts with the Serie A champions, while he hit out at former striker Romelu Lukaku.

    Barella is contracted to Inter until 2024 amid links with Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and the Nerazzurri have been determined to tie the Italy international down to a new long-term deal.

    Martinez – long linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona – and his current deal does not expire until 2023.

    Marotta addressed the futures of Barella and Martinez ahead of Sunday's Derby d'Italia against rivals Juventus, while highlighting the time needed to re-sign midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Barca.

    "Barella and Lautaro will extend their contract with a pay rise, we are close," Marotta told Il Corriere della Sera.

    "Brozovic's contract is expiring, it will take more time, but I am confident."

    Marotta, meanwhile, said there is not much difference between Inter's Edin Dzeko and former star Lukaku – who he claims left San Siro for more money.

    After leading Inter to the Scudetto last season, Lukaku re-joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million (€115m) deal.

    Dzeko was brought in from Roma as a replacement for Lukaku ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

    "Lukaku was sold for €115m and we bought Dzeko for free. On the pitch, there isn't much difference,” Marotta said. "Lukaku left to double his salary, in Italy these figures can't exist.

    "Today, we can't make important investments, I wouldn't be allowed to sign Lukaku for €75m. We need reduced and specific investments."

    Barella and Arturo Vidal netted in the last home Serie A match against Juventus – the last Inter midfielder to score in consecutive league seasons against the Bianconeri at San Siro was Lothar Matthaus (in 1989-90 and 1990-91).

    Among the 13 teams he has faced at least 10 times in Serie A, Juventus are one of the two against which Dzeko has been involved in the fewest goals (alongside Torino) – only three (two goals and one assist).

    Inter have scored 78 goals (in 32 games) in 2021 in Serie A. In the big five European leagues, only Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have netted more (89 in 29 games) this calendar year; Juventus have scored 64 goals in 33 matches.

  • Lukaku-Haaland partnership talk a 'joke' – Chelsea boss Tuchel Lukaku-Haaland partnership talk a 'joke' – Chelsea boss Tuchel

    Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted his comments about a possible Romelu Lukaku-Erling Haaland partnership were a "joke" as he tried to play down speculation linking the European champions with the Borussia Dortmund star.

    Tuchel this week said Chelsea had discussed a move for Haaland and did not rule out partnering the in-demand Norwegian forward with Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

    However, Tuchel backtracked on those comments as Chelsea prepare to host Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.

    "I fell into a trap," Tuchel told reporters, referencing his Bild interview. "I got an award in Germany. I got an award from a newspaper and they asked me about a player.

    "Normally I never, never speak about other players because simply I never, ever do.

    "Then we were making more or less fun about it. I should have known better because [I was] making fun about it and being a nice guy and answering a question instead of 'no, I don't want to answer a question'.

    "Getting this award and I joke about a double striker with Romelu in October and then it gets like we put in an offer. That was the context but OK, I should have known better."

    Haaland has 70 goals in 69 games for Dortmund since his arrival in January last year, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (89 goals in 74 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top-five leagues.

    In this season's Bundesliga, Haaland surpassed his expected goal (xG)-value by 2.9 (nine goals, 6.1 xG) – only Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz eclipsed his value (3.0), per Opta.

    Since Haaland joined Dortmund, he exceeded his xG-value (38.7) in the Bundesliga by 10.3. It is the highest value of a player in Europe's top-five leagues in this time.

    Since Haaland's arrival in Dortmund, he has scored 13 Bundesliga goals after carries – in Europe's top-five leagues, it is only bettered by six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (15).

    In the 2021-22 league campaign, Haaland is one of four players who has been involved on 10 open-play sequences which ended in a goal – together with Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric, Bayern veteran Thomas Muller and Wirtz.

    "It is interesting that we as German staff, we become very humble when we see the difference in performance in the Bundesliga and obviously how much harder it is to produce the same numbers in the Premier League," Tuchel added.

    "It is, by the way, the big question in every transfer you do. This player performs in Germany, Spain, Italy or the other way around in England, can he also perform in the other country, the other culture, in the other team, in the other style of football? That is for me one of the big questions because you can scout them on any physical, mental level, do tests with them and observe them, how they behave.

    "On social media, they let you observe their lives so you know pretty much everything except for the fact what does it mean if you perform in club A in country B, what does it mean for your club C in country D? This will be the question.

    "Every player is different so to make it a general rule, it is maybe not possible but it seems it is the toughest league here and to produce outstanding stats. This cannot be a surprise. You are proud to have this league in England and you should be. It is big fun to watch and maybe bigger fun to work in it. That's the way it is."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.