Jason Holder

FULL FOCUS: West Indies captain Jason Holder gets through another over on the second day of the first Test match against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, southwest England yesterday. —Photo AFP

While the West Indies would have ended the second day of the first Test against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton yesterday on a massive high, skipper Jason Holder urged his men to stay focused and not let the “little glimpse of success” go to their head.

During a post play virtual press conference yesterday, Holder, who ticked one thing off his to-do list by grabbing his first five-wicket haul in England—a career best 6/42—soaked in the moment but quickly shifted his focus to the net objective, to contribute with the bat and help his team get a big first innings total.

England were blown away for 204 yesterday thanks to a clinical bowling effort led by Holder’s career-best effort and backed up by Shannon’s Gabriel’s comeback haul of four for 62.

The Windies then closed the day on 57 for one with Kraigg Brathwaite unbeaten on 20, and Shai Hope on three.

Asked about the good start for the visitors in the context of their three-decade series drought in England, Holder said: “It is very early days in this series.“

“It’s only two days into a Test series so it’s pretty difficult to get on top and probably ride on a little glimpse of success. We’ve got to bat well and make sure we put this first innings to bed by posting a really good total and get a lead,” Holder stressed.

“I think a lead is very pivotal and crucial so we’ve got to really bat well and focus on our batting as opposed to getting caught up with the series results and past results,” he added.

“One of the things I’ve always tried to do, particularly when I get the chance to play against England, is to score a hundred in England and obviously to get a five-wicket-haul and I’ve ticked off that so far so it’s now left for me to knuckle down and get a hundred,” Holder continued.

“I really want to make some runs. I’ve done a good job in the first innings so far but my job is far from over. I still have a massive contribution to make with the bat and that is where my focus is going to be channelled now for this first innings. I don’t get too caught up with it. There is still a long way to go. There are three days of cricket left and we’ve got to stay on top of our game,” he added.

Asked about his bowling performance in the first innings, Holder said that while he was pleased with his personal millstone, he stressed that fellow fast bowlers Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Kemar Roach had all played a part in his success.

“It feels good. Obviously it’s a proud moment taking six wickets against England but anything again to help my team...Today I had ball in hand and I was able to get some success but I think it is on the back of a wonderful bowling unit as well. I think Shannon led the way up front and although Kemar didn’t get any wickets, he was very tidy and Alzarri looked better as he went on. I think we really complement each other and I was able to get into a really good rhythm today and I got the results obviously,” the Windies skipper added.

One of the talking points ahead of the series was the battle between the top two Test all-rounders in Holder and England skipper Ben Stokes.

Holder personally got the better of his opposite number in the first innings yesterday and described it as “a big wicket” in the context of the game.

“It was a big wicket to get. Stokesy was looking quite set. We put down two chances and he was looking to make us pay from them. So you know when I came on, I think his partnership with Jos (Butler) was now starting to blossom and it was important to break that partnership and not let it mature later into something that could really hurt,” Holder explained.

“I just wanted to be really consistent against him. He was pretty settled and he was pretty much countering the line we were bowling by walking across and walking down. For me it was about just getting enough movement there to keep him at bay and I just wanted to keep him playing and eventually I got the edge,” Holder said of his first battle with Stokes.

He added for emphasis:“I must say I enjoyed this spell.”

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