On the latest episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast – recorded after West Indies’ four-wicket win over England – the captain of the tourists, Jason Holder, was aptly up for discussion.
Sticking to the trusted methods of line and length, Holder starred in the victory at the Ageas Bowl, with his medium pace returning figures of 6-42 in England’s first innings.
It was also a continuation of a stellar run: in Tests Holder has averaged 41.11 with the bat and 14.08 with the ball since the start of 2018. During this period, he’s also picked up a Test double-hundred and taken six five-wicket hauls. Against every side he has faced in the period, he’s averaged less than 20 with the ball, leading to him sitting on top of the tree of ICC’s rankings for Test all-rounders, beating out England’s Ben Stokes.
With England having showed their appetite for a bit of extra pace in the first Test with the inclusion of both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, host Yas Rana pressed Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief Phil Walker with an interesting question.
Yas Rana: Phil, I’m going to ask you a potentially ridiculous question. You described Jason Holder as someone who’s emerging into somewhat of a modern-day great. How many Test matches do you reckon he would have played if he were English? Because I genuinely think it might not have been many, if any. He bowls 80 miles per hour. England, aside from Anderson and Broad, are clearly after pace bowlers. Would he have even gotten an opportunity if he were English?
Phil Walker: I can see where you’re going with it, and certainly the modern trend is to ignore the likes of Ollie Robinson, whose first-class record is outrageous and who bowled brilliantly, I thought, in the trial game the other week, in favour of pace. But I also think that’s a relatively modern trend in English cricket. The bowlers who have done it historically are traditionally those kiss-the-pitch and hit-the-top-of-off stump bowlers. There is a push towards extreme pace and an understandable one when you have, in Mark Wood, probably the second-fastest bowler in the world after Mitchell Starc. I can understand the thinking of why they went with this pace attack. Personally, I would have played Broad. I think the game showed you needed Broad on a pitch like that and I would have personally held Wood back for Old Trafford, where you do get that bit of extra nip and extra bounce and zip.
In answer to your specific question: Jason Holder was an outstanding teenage cricketer, he was already the main man for the West Indies Under-19 side and beat England pretty much on his own when he played against them 10 years ago. I think, considering everything he has to offer, his intelligence as well as his skill, I think he would have played a lot of cricket for England as well.