Ahead of his team’s tough clash against India at the 2019 World Cup in Manchester, captain Jason Holder urged West Indies’ young batsmen to turn to Kane Williamson for inspiration.
After making a promising start to their World Cup campaign, West Indies have quickly gone downhill and are currently eighth on the table, with a lone victory after six matches. While it hasn’t yet put the seal on an early elimination, defeat to India on Thursday, June 27 could put them on the brink. To make matters worse, West Indies have also been left without Andre Russell, their manic all-rounder, who has been ruled out of the tournament to undergo knee surgery.
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In these circumstances, the pressure is on the likes of Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer to deliver. Hope hasn’t quite matched the blazing run of form that he brought into the tournament. Pooran has shown some sparks, and though Hetmyer has produced a pair of blazing half-centuries, his temperament has often let him down, as it did in the game against New Zealand, where his dismissal opened the gates and let the opposition claw back after being dominated.
“They’ve got to be the rock and soul for our team,” Holder said of his young players. “And they’ve got to set up games and learn to close them out. And great young players are great players, full stop. They get themselves in, set themselves up and they go very, very big.
“And a guy who has done that over the tournament is Kane Williamson. Just see the way how he goes about his business, he sets it up and goes big and bats down to the very, very end.”
Holder admitted that the last two defeats have especially hit the team hard. Against Bangladesh, West Indies racked up 321 but were absolutely destroyed in the chase, as Shakib Al Hasan and Liton Das sealed the game in just 41.3 overs. Then came the most stinging defeat of them all, against New Zealand, whom they had on the mat courtesy a brilliant rearguard hundred from Carlos Brathwaite, before stumbling at the final block to lose by five runs.
“It’s been two crushing defeats,” Holder said. “And we felt them drastically over the past couple of days. But it’s a situation where learning must take place. I think it’s significant for everybody just to draw on their own resources and look at themselves in the mirror and try to make sure that learning takes place… And it’s a matter of us just to keep going. There’s no point to drop our heads.”
Despite what their position on the points table may indicate, West Indies have played some terrific cricket in the tournament. After their crushing win over Pakistan, whom they rolled over for 105, West Indies had Australia on the mat and pushed them to the limit in the chase before coming up short. Their defeat to Bangladesh was down more to the opposition’s superiority than West Indies’ own shortcomings, while against New Zealand, they had the game in control at several junctures.
That they don’t have the wins to back those performances up has been down to a combination of bad shot selection, and an inability to sustain those high levels of performance and win the critical moments.
“I think at the start of this tournament, we all match up, every single team,” Holder said. “And most captains say that – it’s a competition where if a team plays good cricket on any given day, anyone can beat anyone. And it’s just a matter of us putting together a complete game.
“We’ve shown glimpses here and there. We just haven’t brought it together collectively more often than not, and it’s hurt us in games before. So tomorrow is another opportunity for us to bring it all together and play a perfect game.”