Former captain encouraged by displays but says West Indies need more consistency
West Indies’ ninth-wicket pair added an unbroken 72-run partnership in just 4.5 overs to run England agonisingly close, but the match was effectively lost when the top-order collapsed to 65 for 7, with England’s senior spinners, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, returning the combined figures of 5 for 48 in eight overs.
Holder himself returned the figures of 4 for 7 to set his side up for a crushing nine-wicket win in the series opener on Saturday. But he was part of Sunday’s collapse, caught-and-bowled by Moeen for 1, and with Liam Livingstone potentially returning to England’s ranks on Wednesday to bulk out their spin options, he knows that improvements are needed in the batting.
“I think we’ve just got to show more intent and intent does mean hitting the ball in the air or being reckless,” Holder said on the eve of the game. “We need to be more precise in our footwork and committing to certain things, not being tentative.
“For me personally when you look at West Indies cricket and playing slow bowling over the last decade, a lot of it has been tentative. And that’s because you’re unsure sometimes, yes, but you can be unsure and still show intent and have a bowler guessing.
“I think we’ve got to impose ourselves a little bit more and just show more intent with our footwork and just commit to more stroke-play.”
Shepherd and Hosein certainly imposed themselves in their thrilling stand, striking nine sixes between them and leaving a sizeable dent in Saqib Mahmood’s figures in particular, as his final over was taken for 28. And Holder acknowledged that their efforts had been more than just a bout of hopeful slogging with the match all but lost.
“It all boils down to intent,” he said. “I think intent goes a very, very long way and it’s a funny word, because a lot of people tend to believe intent means swiping and being aggressive. But you could be showing that intent with your footwork and that’s how batting works.”
West Indies came into the series off the back of an ODI loss to Ireland, and with concerns about their readiness of their new generation of players following an ending of an era at the T20 World Cup in November. But their displays in the opening two fixtures have been encouraging, even if Holder admits there’s still room for plenty improvement.
“We’ve just got to keep challenging ourselves to play a complete game,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t think we were good enough in the field for the last encounter, and that probably hurt us at the end of the game.
“I think if we’re a lot more clinical and consistent then we can make our lives a lot easier when we go to bat. Having said that, the challenge is out there for every individual to bring consistency.
“I think consistency is something we have spoken about for years and I just think it’s time we start heading in the right direction. We just want to see some progression and development consistently.”