Jason Holder’s starring role leaves England mammoth task to survive

Jason Holder celebrates reaching his third Test hundred Getty Images

England 77 and 56 for 0 (Burns 39*, Jennings 11*) trail West Indies 289 and 415 (dec.) for 6 (Holder 202*, Dowrich 116*) by 571 runs

Jason Holder celebrates reaching his third Test hundred (Getty Images)

ESPNcricinfo-Jason Holder had called on his batsmen to stand up in this Test. Several teased, a few stumbled, so the West Indies captain decided to do the job himself.

With his team already in a strong position 339 runs ahead, having skittled England for 77 in reply to West Indies’ first-innings 289, Holder and overnight batting partner Shane Dowrich resumed day three on 7 and 27 respectively. And, after a sedate first hour – particularly in light of the previous day’s 18-wicket chaos – the skipper started swinging.

What followed was an entertaining, landmark-riddled innings by a man who could play freely. He amassed an unbeaten 202 off 229 balls. His eight sixes was the most by a West Indies Test batsman against England and his double century was just the third by anyone batting at No. 8 or lower.

Holder was well supported by Dowrich, who reached 116 not out as the pair put on a record seventh-wicket stand of 295 for the West Indies. Holder declared immediately after thumping Keaton Jennings to the boundary for four to bring up his 200 and put his side a mammoth 627 runs head.

In sharp contrast to the previous day, no wickets fell and England still needed 572 runs with Rory Burns not out 39 and Jennings on 11 as the tourists went to stumps unbeaten on 56 in their second innings but well and truly bowed.

As a 23 year old in 2014, Holder was given the captaincy – seen by some as a hospital pass or a poisoned chalice – of a side criticised as “mediocre” and, recently by Geoffrey Boycott, as “very ordinary, average cricketers”. While his broad shoulders heaved the bat with such effect in Barbados, it was as though he was shrugging off those labels one by one.

Recognising his team’s batting had “let them down” at times, Holder challenged his line-up to show more against England. Five batsmen, including debutant John Campbell, made starts in the first innings but no one went on to post a big score, with Shimron Hetmyer’s 81 the best.

It was Hetmyer who helped to steady things when the West Indies faltered at 61 for 5 in the second innings and his dismissal for 31 brought Holder to the crease.

Holder hit Moeen Ali for three consecutive fours and, later, his third six of the innings, when he latched on to a Sam Curran outswinger and sent it deep into the stands over long-off, fittingly brought up the century partnership with Dowrich.

The West Indies captain brought up his 100 off just 99 balls with another six off Joe Root. It came just four balls after Dowrich had survived being trapped lbw by a Root legspinner, which Hawk-Eye showed would have been out, had England not been out of reviews.

Then, to sum up England’s wretched time of it, Holder lofted Jennings in the direction of deep point where a diving Burns – one of three fielders racing towards the airborne ball – managed to get a fingertip to it but no more than that.Still Holder was not done. When he cracked Curran through midwicket for four to bring up his 151st run, it was only the fourth time a No.8 batsman had reached the 150-mark.

The sixes kept coming, too. Another off Stokes brought a big grin to Holder’s face, then he smacked Moeen defiantly over long on before sending the spinner’s next delivery bouncing to the rope through midwicket for four more runs. His eighth and final six was a glorious straight hit off Jennings over long-on.

After bringing up his maiden double-century with that crunching boundary off Jennings, Holder leapt into the air with a punching fist, elated. He walked off moments later, to another standing ovation. But after a short spell to recover, he was back in the bowling ranks, contributing four overs as the England openers batted out the remainder of the session.


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