LEEDS, England, CMC — Jason Holder admitted that an improved performance is essential to restoring confidence in his battered West Indies side, when they face England in the second Test, starting tomorrow at Headingley here.
The Windies captain said his side had spent the last few days in deep introspection, as they seek to recover from a demoralising, innings and 209-run defeat inside three days in the day/night first Test which ended on Saturday at Edgbaston in Birmingham, and derision from friends and foes.
“We have copped a lot of criticism from West Indians, the English and pretty much everybody else, to be honest,” said Holder to a large pool of reporters on the eve of this match.
“It is something that could inspire and motivate some players, and it can break some players — but it is important that we stick together as a side. We must be able to lift those that the criticism might break and it must drive those that it motivates.”
Holder said: “My biggest role, as captain, is to make sure that each individual stays true to himself and gets the best out of himself to help this team.
“For me, I don’t hear because if I do and I break, it could be a weapon that the next team can take and use against us, and we won’t function well as a team. As a leader, I have to keep carrying a good body language and keep motivating the guys the best way I can. It is hard sometimes, but I accept the challenge.”
West Indies conceded over 500 runs in the first Test and failed to reached 200 in their two turns at the crease, but they will be looking to buck their feeble recent record to defy Joe Root’s side.
“We think it’s more of a patience thing, with our bowlers having a consistent plan and sticking to it, and for our batsman to get stuck in and fight it out,” said Holder.
“We’re going to be tinkering with a few things going into the second Test. Edgbaston wasn’t the best showing, but it’s important we rally and stay together through hard times and this is a difficult time as a group.
“We tried to do a lot more team bonding stuff to bring the guys closer and I must say it’s been a wonderful few days off. The guys have really come together as we would have liked and we’re looking forward to the match.”
Conditions are expected to be unfriendly for the visitors, with temperatures between 16 to 19 degrees Celsius forecast and a green pitch tailored to suit the home team rolled out.
“It’s not going to be easy,” said Holder. “We’re coming up against a very good side and are relatively inexperienced, but having said that I think over the last few days we’ve got guys opening up their minds to change.
“As a bowling unit, I don’t think we were as patient as we would have liked to be. We lacked consistency and it was difficult to set fields as the England players scored both sides of the wicket.
“As a batting unit, we’ve got to know where is our off-stump and be a lot more selective in our stroke-play. We do not want to complicate it too much, but try to keep it as simple as possible.”
West Indies have not announced a final 11, but regular spearhead Shannon Gabriel and leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo would be under strong consideration for places in the line-up.
On the flipside, England have made the bold move of announcing their final 11 on the eve of the match with fast bowler Chris Woakes, now fully recovered from a side strain he sustained in June, making the cut, ahead of Toby Roland-Jones.
“Toby unfortunately misses out,” said England captain Root. “He’s not done a lot wrong — he’s taken his opportunities, played some fantastic cricket and I see him being a massive part of our future, but it’s a great chance for Chris to come back and show his class.”
On the Test, Root said: “I think the only message for our guys is to go out there and take this opportunity. It’s another week of hard Test cricket, where of course guys are under different pressures and if they want to nail down those spots in the side, they have to deal with that and if they get in make it really count.”
West Indies however, can take hope in the knowledge that this venue has not been a happy hunting ground for England of late. They have won just two of their last seven Tests here.
Scheduled start: 11 am local time (6 am–East Caribbean Time)
ENGLAND: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, Tom Westley, Chris Woakes
WEST INDIES (from): Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Miguel Cummins, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Kyle Hope, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach