READY TO DELIVER

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READY TO DELIVER

Chemar Holder draws confidence from senior bowlers

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 06, 2020

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PROMISING fast bowler Chemar Holder says he draws confidence from knowing he has senior teammates to guide him throughout the West Indies three-Test tour of England.

“It's great because I know that any time I want to know [something] I can ask them and they can give me information,” he recently told journalists during a virtual press conference from the team's base in England.

Within the 15-member squad, the 22-year-old Barbadian can rely on the support of compatriots Kemar Roach and Jason Holder (no relation) and Trinidadian Shannon Gabriel.

Roach, 32, is the most experienced and skilful of the lot. After 56 Test matches, he is only seven wickets short of 200. Though he has dropped in pace over the last few years, he remains a handful for batsmen because of the variation and guile that he brings to the fore.

The towering Holder, 28, is the West Indies captain and the world's number one all-rounder. He has taken 106 wickets in 40 Tests. He is arguably the most consistent bowler in the team, able to stick to a tight line and length and can move the ball both ways.

The bustling Gabriel, a key figure in the attack, is the fastest and most aggressive of the three. The 32-year-old has accounted for 133 victims in 45 outings. Having the knack of taking early wickets, the speedster is considered a top strike bowler.

While awaiting his Test debut, Chemar, who has played only 19 first-class matches, said he has already picked up key points.

“I've learned a few things in terms of firstly, how hard Test cricket is, and you've got to stay strong in terms of your mind and you just got to keep putting in the work and the effort,” he said.

An integral bowler at the back end of the 2016 Under-19 World Cup as West Indies won the title, the younger Holder has been in impressive form in first-class cricket, dating back to last summer's unofficial Test series against India A in the Caribbean.

He claimed 15 wickets in three matches against the vaunted batting of the visiting team.

The long-limbed pacer was incessantly accurate and threatening during the domestic four-day competition, grabbing 36 wickets at 18.91 apiece for Barbados Pride.

And after proving his readiness in the team's two warm-up contests, Gabriel, who did ankle operation months ago, has been promoted from the touring reserves to the front line squad, and is expected to join Roach and skipper Holder as the main seamers for the first Test.

Alzarri Joseph, another star of the Under-19 World Cup, is also ahead of Chemar after capturing 10 wickets in three Test matches against England in the Caribbean last year.

But Chemar says he is biding his time, while taking inspiration from team officials de scribing the current crop of young fast bowlers as potential world beaters.

“I'm taking steps from Under-19 and I've played a few Presidents' XI and A team cricket. I've come up in the ranks so I'm taking it slow,” he said.

“It's just maintaining what I've done before and [I'm] looking to progress,” he added.

“For them to label us as the future fast bowlers it means that they really see something in us. I feel good to know that coaches looking at me and also the others can say that this is the future,” he told reporters.

The other pace bowler in the squad of 15 is left-armer Raymon Reifer. The list of reserve players includes pacers Keon Harding, Oshane Thomas, Anderson Phillip, Marquino Mindley, and left-armer Preston McSween.

All-rounder Kyle Mayers, though bowling minimally while making 654 runs during last season's regional tournament, is another seam option among the reserves.

The Test series, to be contested behind closed doors in biosecure facilities to reduce the risk of transmission of the novel coronavirus, is set to begin on Wednesday at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

The second and third matches are booked for Old Trafford in Manchester, starting July 16 and 24, respectively.

West Indies are defending the Wisden Trophy after stunning the visiting Englishmen 2-1 last year.

However, England, the world number four-rated Test side, enter the series as favourites against eighth-ranked West Indies. England have not lost at home to West Indies since 1988.

Squad – Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Chemar Holder, Nkrumah Bonner, Raymon Reifer.

Reserves – Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.


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