West Indies skipper Jason Holder said on Tuesday he would keep his captaincy secrets close to his chest as he prepares to go head-to-head with England’s Ben Stokes. The world’s two leading Test all-rounders will pit their wits against each other behind closed doors in Southampton from Wednesday in the first Test of a three-match series. Stokes will be leading England for the first time in the absence of regular captain Joe Root, who is missing the game to attend the birth of his second child. But Holder, who tops the Test rankings for all-rounders ahead of Stokes, has no intention of passing on any trade secrets to his rival, even for one game, until the series is completed.
“I’ll leave my advice to Stokesy until after the series,” Holder told a conference call.
“England are in capable hands. He is an excellent cricketer and a great competitor and I am sure the guys in the dressing room look up to him too.”
Holder has won 10 of his 32 Tests as captain, leading his side to a 2-1 series win against England in the Caribbean last year.
“My captaincy has been made a lot easier by my players, particularly the senior guys like Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Kraigg Brathwaite, just to name a few,” he said.
“These guys have helped tremendously on and off the park and they’ve made the job a lot easier. I’ve really enjoyed leading this team. It is a very talented group.”
The formerly dominant West Indies team have not won a Test series in England since 1988.
But Holder, taking heart from a narrow 2-1 reverse in England three years ago, said: “If you look at the calibre of players we’ve got — Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope have had success here in England and that is just to name a few. I am more than confident that these guys will do well in this series.”
Holder himself needs just 102 more runs to become only the third West Indian after Garry Sobers and Carl Hooper to score 2,000 runs and take 100 wickets in Tests.
“I wasn’t aware of the stat until probably a day or two ago but it feels good to know I’m in quite elite company,” said Holder, who added that Sobers, a fellow Bajan, had long been a source of inspiration.
“He’s one of the most positive individuals I’ve ever spoken to,” said the West Indies skipper.
“He just sees things from a different light and I guess that’s why he was so great. He’s never shy of giving information or advice and he’s one of those guys that would put his arm around you and nurture the next generation.”
Holder added listening to former players such as Sobers and Everton Weekes, another Barbados and West Indies cricket great, who died last week aged 95, had been “electrifying”.
“You can see and sense the passion they speak with when they bring these stories to us,” he said.
“Sir Everton and Sir Garry are two father figures of not only West Indies cricket but world cricket.
“No doubt we will sadly miss Sir Everton but I’m sure his memory will live on forever so may he rest in peace.”
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