“Focus, Firmness, Innovation and Imagination Needed from WI Captain Jason Holder v Sri Lanka!” by Colin Croft

12th October 2015

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

West Indies has a tremendous opportunity to start Jason Holder’s Test captaincy with a great bang. After so much agro on captaincy, team selection and Head Coach Philip Simmons’ suspension, all now comes down to what should really matter most; real cricket on the field of play.

Nothing should distract nor disorganize WI’s all-important thoughts on playing well. Players must find that singular frame of mind to do whatever it takes to win, as it would be very uplifting, fulfilling, even surprising to some, if they manage to beat Sri Lanka in all three formats.

While all acknowledge usage of Twitter, Face-book, Whatsapp etc., it still seems strange that players use social media so prolifically, especially during games. That must take away focus.

While touring Australia, England, Pakistan or elsewhere; four months at a time; I, for one, seldom contacted anyone during those periods except to briefly inquire about “well-being”.

I was present 35 years ago; October 11, 1980; when my first offspring, Colin Lee, was born.

Forty eight hours later, I was jetting to Pakistan with WI to help beat the hosts for the first time ever in that country; getting the most wickets too, even if another fast bowler, Sylvester Clarke, was our best bowler on that four-Test, three ODI tour. You have to do what you have to do!

Managing to focus 100% while touring was a simple mind-set for me. If someone close died while I was on any tour, then I could not help them anyway. Also, while only radios and televisions were available for coverage of our tours back then, it meant that, at least, if anything on-toward happened to me, then my relatives would certainly know too, via the commentators!

Former WI fast bowler Ian Bishop, describing my expectations of cricketers and my own training, once said what both of my ex-wives openly concurred with; “Crofty, you are a very hard man!”

To this day I am not entirely sure what those two beautiful women really meant, but, seriously, no player needs to be on social connections even after a day’s play, for it is guaranteed that everything done that day has already been ‘tweeted’ and ‘whatsapped’. Yes, we did get up to mischief, as international sportsmen do too, but, mostly, we won. So, focus, guys, focus!

Sri Lanka could also be at their most vulnerable for some time, for this is also an opportunity for Angelo Matthews’ men to find out how they would cope without absolutely mercurial, majestic superstars Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. During the last decade, they have coped well enough, after losing fast bowler Chaminda Vaas and off-spinner Muttiah Muraliatharan.

WI’s biggest question mark would be the effectiveness of nearly 24-year old captain, Jason Holder. For all of his potential, he has no real foundation except that “he is a student of the game”, a description that could be used for even on-lookers. Therefore, he must try to cultivate that “devil take the hindmost” approach, taking full charge, doing what he thinks is right at any given time!

Holder’s cricketing history of eight Tests, 16 wickets @ 35.37 each, 380 runs scored, one century, avg. 34.54 runs per innings; plus thirty-three ODI’s, 46 wickets @ 31.93 and RPO 5.66, 317 runs scored, avg. 22.64; will not blow anyone’s clothes off, as achieved in Mark Walberg’s 2003 film “Italian Job”, that poor imitation of Michael Caine’s superb 1969 film of the same name.

When Clive Lloyd became WI captain early 1974 to India, he had already played 36 Tests and had a nucleus of a great team, players who beat the world afterwards. (Sir) Vivian Richards had mostly that same team too, already fully matured, so it was impossible for his team to lose!

Holder, like former England captain Mike Brearley, will have to prove himself as captain first, then anything else afterwards, using intensity, elasticity, possible innovation and imagination.

He simply will have to take chances as WI’s leader! Just ask Donald Trump!

Denesh Ramdin’s elimination as captain, along with his less-than-expected batting returns, came with noises that he had no imagination whatsoever as captain. Not always will anyone be successful as captain, but always will he or she be judged on abilities to in-vigor things; to lead aggressively. Ramdin was singularly lacking there!

Australians Steve Waugh, especially Mark Taylor and my favorite Aussie captain and batsman, Ian Chappell, were team leaders who made things happen, never being patient enough to just wait for possible eventualities. Yes, they had pretty good teams, but to win, they had to take chances too!

Former WI captains (Sir) Richie Richardson, Darren Sammy, Carl Hooper, Brian Lara, (Sir) Gary Sobers, Chris Gayle, even Courtney Walsh, have sometimes been maligned when they did not win. While they took chances in games, sometimes also depending way too much on their own abilities, at least they used their imaginations.

Conversely, Jimmy Adams, Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan were way too conservative as captains, even if they did produce well as batsmen.

Per Walt Disney World; ‘This is the best time of your life!’ It must be for Jason Holder! Enjoy!

C.E.H. Croft

Colin Everton Hunte Croft was one of the fast-bowling giants of West Indies’ glorious period of world dominance. In his international career between 1977-82 he was part of a devastating 4-man pace attack alongside fellow greats Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner (with a young Malcolm Marshall as first reserve). In 27 Tests he took 125 wickets at 23.30 with a best of 8-29 v Pakistan in only his 2nd Test Match. He was a member of West Indies’ World Cup winning XI of 1979, and took the match-clinching wicket, spreading the stumps of England’s Mike Hendrick, to finish with figures of 3-42. In his post playing days ‘Crofty’ has been a teacher, commercial pilot, coach and a shrewd and honest cricket analyst, writer, broadcaster, commentator and summariser – gaining respect internationally for his insightful and forthright opinions and, not least, his splendid wit. Roland Butcher’s Hook is delighted to have Colin as a contributor.


2 thoughts on ““Focus, Firmness, Innovation and Imagination Needed from WI Captain Jason Holder v Sri Lanka!” by Colin Croft

    1. David Oram Post author

      Definitely one of the WIndies greats. Geoff Boycott reckoned he wasn’t their best fast bowler – but he was their nastiest!


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