Former West Indies Test captain Jason Holder has been named as one of Wisden’s five Cricketers-of-the-Year, further bolstering an already mushrooming international profile and confirming his status as one of the world’s elite players.
The 29-year-old was announced late Wednesday on the prestigious list, joining Englishmen Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Darren Stevens, along with Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan, as the five most influential players identified by cricket’s most respected and authoritative voice.
In making the announcement, Wisden said Holder “was at the helm when West Indies toured England and played a central role in his side’s only win over England” during last year’s historic three-Test tour at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
While his returns from five Tests last year were modest, Holder was rewarded for his leadership role in the ground-breaking first-ever bio-secure Test series against England which signalled the resumption of international cricket following a lockdown due to the virus.
He snatched six for 42 in the first innings of the opening Test at the Rose Bowl in Southampton to bundle the hosts out for a paltry 204, and lay the foundation for the visitors’ four-wicket victory.
Holder, currently campaigning in the Indian Premier League for Sunrisers Hyderabad, said he was delighted with the honour especially after the “blood, sweat and tears” he had left on the field.
“This award means so much to me. I’m delighted that my efforts to play well and make a contribution have been bearing fruit and I just want to continue and reach higher heights,” said the Barbadian.
“To be named one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year is something truly special as over the years I have seen a list of great players who have etched their names in history.”
He added: “To be sat here in 2021 being a recipient of this award, means so much to me after the sweat, blood and tears I would’ve outputted on the cricket field.”
Holder becomes the third West Indies player in the last nine years to nail the award, joining teammate Shai Hope (2018) and now retired stroke-maker Marlon Samuels (2013).
And he said Hope’s capture of the award had served as an inspiration.
“The last recipient from West Indies was Shai Hope in 2017 and after seeing his performances it inspired me to be one of the Wisden Cricketers of the future.”
Holder, one of West Indies’ youngest ever Test captains, has risen to become one of the Caribbean side’s leading players, and currently sits on top of the International Cricket Council’s Test all-rounder rankings.
He has also been widely praised for his discipline and character, and the dignity with which he led West Indies, and Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt said Holder had continued to make the region proud.
“Congratulations to Jason whose all-round cricket excellence is making all West Indians proud. For such a relatively young and intelligent athlete, he should get even better,” said Skerritt.
CWI director of cricket, Jimmy Adams, also praised Holder’s character, especially leading West Indies during the early pandemic period.
“On behalf of all of us at Cricket West Indies, I want to congratulate Jason Holder on his being selected as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year,” said Adams, a former Windies captain.
“In a period that has thrown up many challenges, he has performed consistently with distinction and dignity both on and off the field and we wish him all the success possible going forward.”
Jason Holder was replaced as Test captain by seasoned opener Kraigg Brathwaite, ahead of the two-Test series against Sri Lanka last month.
West Indies white-ball captain, Kieron Pollard, was also voted by Wisden as leading T20 Cricketer in the World for his exploits in leading Trinbago Knight Riders to the Caribbean Premier League title and playing a key role in Mumbai Indians’ capture of the IPL.