'If I had 12 Jermaine Blackwoods'

'If I had 12 Jermaine Blackwoods'

WI skipper Holder hails 'team man' who gives his all

Monday, July 13, 2020

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WEST INDIES Captain Jason Holder praised Jermaine Blackwood as the ultimate “team man” after the batsman's knock in Southampton yesterday handed them a 1-0 lead in the Test series versus England.

The 28-year-old player struck a back-to-the-wall 95 to guide the visitors to 200-6, giving them a four-wicket win on a testing final-day pitch at The Ageas Bowl.

“If I had 12 Jermaine Blackwoods; those are the kind of guys you want to step on the cricket field with. These are team guys through thick and thin,” Holder told journalists during a virtual post-match press conference.

“I've played lots of cricket with, and lots of cricket against [Blackwood]. We played all our youth cricket together, we played Youth World Cup together, so I know the player.

“He's a team man, he's a humble team man, and he's one of those guys [who] I know when he crosses that line he is going to give his all,” he said.

“Sometimes he feels he could carry everybody on his shoulders…he's that confident a player,” the regional team captain added.

It is only the West Indies' second Test match win on English soil since 2000.

Holder was himself integral to the outcome, taking Test-best figures of 6-42 in the first innings to help dismiss England for 204 after they won the toss and chose to bat first.

West Indies grabbed the upper hand when they replied with 318. And Man-of-the-Match Shannon Gabriel, who accounted for four wickets in the first innings, added 5-75 as England battled to 313 in their second time at the crease.

Trailing by 199 runs, West Indies were in a precarious position at 27-3 when Blackwood entered the fray. But he added 73 runs for the fourth wicket with Roston Chase (37) and a fifth-wicket 68 with Shane Dowrich (20) to bring the visiting side close to victory.

Along the way, the diminutive Jamaican survived two early dropped chances and got away with a couple of dodgy, quick singles.

But for the second time in the match he went caught at mid-off, attempting his trademark, booming off drive.

In the first innings he had only made 12 and was clearly furious the shot failed him. Yesterday, it was more a look of frustration, given he fell only five short of a second Test career century, and also was not able to steer West Indies over the line after doing almost all the hard work.

Holder, born merely a handful of days before Blackwood in November 1991, said the batsman's second-innings knock is an example of what he can bring to the table, even if he does cause disappointment due to the nature of some of his dismissals.

“That's why when things happen like how they happened in the first innings for him — yeah, you're disappointed, but again you can't put a player like that into a shell. So it's more or less trying to manage him and trying to help him to understand the different passages of play, where he can be a little bit more selective, where he needs to be just settled and hang in for a bit before going on the attack again, because he's an attacking player. It's mainly just giving him that confidence, giving him the support to go on to the game's close,” Holder said.

The three-Test series, played in a biosecure environment to reduce the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus, moves to Old Trafford in Manchester for the second and third matches, set to begin July 16 and 24, respectively. Both Test match venues have hotels on site.

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