We are con­fi­dent we’ll be lift­ing the World Cup at Lord’s

After tam­ing Eng­land, cap­tain Ja­son Holder says his West Indies can end 40-year wait

Daily Mail - - Augusta Countdown - By LAWRENCE BOOTH Wis­den Editor

‘Be­ing No 1 all-rounder if the team is eighth doesn’t quite fit the bill for me’

Ja­son Holder has fast be­come one of cricket’s hottest prop­er­ties, but on a numb­ingly cold day in northamp­ton — home for the next few weeks — it doesn’t im­me­di­ately feel that way.

Holder touched down from Bar­ba­dos on Tues­day ahead of an eight-match county stint which he hopes will pre­pare him for this sum­mer’s World Cup. It’s 40 years since a West In­dian, Clive lloyd, lifted the tro­phy. and Holder, in be­tween try­ing to sound non­cha­lant about the spring chill, knows lloyd’s il­lus­tri­ous history. and — more than any­thing — is rel­ish­ing the chance to make his own. ‘I’m very op­ti­mistic,’ he told

Sports­mail. ‘I think we’ve got what it takes to win the World Cup. It’s just a mat­ter of the cricket we play. We’ve po­ten­tially got match win­ners on any given day and we can beat any side in the world. ‘We’re con­fi­dent that once we for­mu­late our plans and ex­e­cute them we’ll be up there lift­ing that tro­phy at the very end.’ Holder speaks from a po­si­tion of strength. In Jan­uary, he scored a bril­liant dou­ble cen­tury on his home is­land to help West Indies crush eng­land in the first Test, be­fore lead­ing them to a se­ri­esclinch­ing win in an­tigua. He doesn’t agree eng­land were com­pla­cent: that would be an in­sult to his own team. He just thinks they were out­played. West Indies then shared the one­day­ers 2-2, be­com­ing the first side to deny eoin Mor­gan’s team vic­tory in a bi­lat­eral series for three years. To cap it all, Holder is the no 1 all-rounder in the ICC Test rank­ings, leav­ing the likes of Ben stokes in his wake. For West Indies, the con­ver­sa­tion has changed — and their cap­tain is at the heart of that. ‘I don’t think it’s all sunk in yet,’ he said. ‘It was a sur­real feel­ing scor­ing a dou­ble cen­tury in front of my home crowd. and com­pet­ing against the no 1 one-day side in the world and push­ing them right un­til the end says a lot about our po­ten­tial. ‘Be­ing the no 1 all-rounder is some­thing I’ve worked to­wards. But I’ve al­ways said that be­ing no 1 while the team is eight or nine doesn’t quite fit the bill for me.’ Two four-day and six lim­ited-overs matches for northamp­ton­shire — whose pre­vi­ous West In­dian over­seas play­ers in­clude Win­ston davis, Curtly am­brose and el­dine Bap­tiste — will be fol­lowed by a one-day tri-series in Ire­land, and the World Cup. West Indies’ path to the tour­na­ment is a story in it­self. a year ago, forced by their lowly rank­ing to take part in the qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion in Zim­babwe, they needed a for­tu­itous lbw de­ci­sion against scot­land, quickly fol­lowed by some per­fectly timed rain, to see them through. Win­ners of the first two World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, they al­most missed out. as Holder puts it, with a touch of re­lief: ‘It was highly pres­surised, I can tell you that.’ now, with Chris Gayle more de­struc­tive than ever at the age of 39, and the 22-year-old Guyanese bats­man shim­ron Het­myer among the most tal­ented hit­ters around, West Indies are be­ing talked about as a de­cent out­side bet. Throw in shai Hope, dar­ren Bravo, Holder him­self and an ex­cit­ing seam at­tack, and the talk is not un­rea­son­able. asked whether he thinks eng­land or In­dia — the pre-tour­na­ment favourites — stand the bet­ter chance, he says: ‘It doesn’t mat­ter to me. I just think we’ve got the play­ers to beat them. I quite like the un­der­dog tag. It feels good to prove peo­ple wrong.’ Im­ages of the be­spec­ta­cled lloyd hold­ing aloft the World Cup on the lord’s bal­cony are part of cricket folk­lore. In 1979, Holder was still 12 years away from be­ing born, but these days he counts lloyd as a friend and men­tor. ‘Grow­ing up, you track history,’ he said. ‘Clive lloyd lifted the two World Cups, and it’s up to us to try to achieve some­thing sim­i­lar. He and I are very close. He’s given me a lot of ad­vice about how to go about my in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. He al­ways said to me that it took three years for him to un­der­stand how to play Test cricket. Hav­ing played Test cricket for a while, I re­alise what he meant. ‘our boys are prob­a­bly not the fin­ished prod­uct but we’re def­i­nitely on the right path to be­com­ing pretty good West In­dian play­ers. If we stick to­gether for the next two or three years, the sky’s the limit. ‘and, be­ing in eng­land, this was the last place we lifted the World Cup. Who knows, maybe there’s a script to be writ­ten there.’

GETTY IM­AGES

Man to beat: Holder at Northants County Ground

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