Ben Stokes stays close in the battle of the allrounders despite Holder heroics

By July 15, 2020
England captain Ben Stokes, right, reacts after West Indies captain Jason Holder, left, hit a boundary off one of his deliveries during the fifth day of the first cricket Test match between England and West Indies, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Sunday, July 12, 2020. England captain Ben Stokes, right, reacts after West Indies captain Jason Holder, left, hit a boundary off one of his deliveries during the fifth day of the first cricket Test match between England and West Indies, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Sunday, July 12, 2020. Adrian Dennis/Pool via AP

The West Indies are leading their three-Test series against England 1-0 thanks in large part to their skipper Jason Holder.

One of the sub-plots of the #RaiseTheBat series for the Wisden Trophy, like one of the storylines in a well-put-together soap opera, was always going to be the battle of the allrounders, Holder and the man who captained England in that first-Test defeat, Ben Stokes.

On the face of it, Holder is winning that battle after his 6-42, 1-49, the wicket of Stokes in both innings, and his sensible batting at the very end of the encounter where the West Indies enjoyed a 4-wicket win.

In England’s first innings, Stokes (43) was on his way to helping the hosts recover when Holder turned him around with a brilliant delivery that shaped towards him then left the left-hander after it pitched.

The wicket was pivotal in the innings but perhaps not as massive for the outcome as Stokes’ second time at-bat.

With the hosts looking comfortable with Zak Crawley, who would end up scoring 76 and Stokes (46) at the wicket, the West Indies, while still ahead in the match, for all intents, needed a wicket.

Stokes had driven the ball well, coming down the pitch to the bowlers and turning good lengths into drivable instances.

Holder, was again, the man to break up the partnership, getting another delivery to leave Stokes who ended up pushing the ball into the hands of Shai Hope at gully. Interestingly, Holder had just changed the field to include two gullies.

The move was brilliant.

But let us look at the losing effort of the England stand-in captain.

In that first innings where England were skittled out for 204 in the best conditions for bowling the match had provided, Stokes’ 43 was the high score and allowed the hosts something to bowl at.

When Stokes bowled, his 4-49 also led the team, restricting the West Indies to 318, a lead of 114.

The situation could have been worse had it not been for Stokes input.

Stokes had taken 4 wickets and scored 43 runs, Holder had taken six and s and scored five.

While the West Indies were in control, Stokes’ input had been making a game of it.

In the second innings, Holder batted better, scoring an unbeaten 14, that was chanceless, and he did remove the England allrounder again.

But still, Stokes second innings with bat and ball was better.

He had scored 46 in that second innings and with the ball had 2-39.

So in the end, Stokes with two 40+ scores, an average of 44.5, and match figures of 6-88, could well claim to have performed better than did Holder.

Holder had match figures of 7-91 and scored 19 runs total.

The moments when Holder performed in addition to the eventual result of the game may have put his performances under the spotlight, while Stokes’s flew under the radar, but the truth is, there was heroism in the England allrounder’s efforts.

Stokes certainly played no small part in making a game of the encounter and if you were to just look at the numbers in isolation, may just be shaving the contest of the allrounders to date.

But there are two games to go and Holder, the number-one allrounder in Test cricket, may have more to say about the contest yet.

But remember Stokes, he lies second on that list of the world’s best with bat and ball.

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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