Opening Test Presents Selection Headache: Holder

SOUTHAMPTON, England – West Indies captain Jason Holder has admitted to a selection headache for the Ageas Bowl opening Test but says it is a good problem to have.

Pointed out that the 15-man squad had been outstanding over the last four weeks of preparation, Holder said Tuesday it had been difficult to settle on an XI before the morning of Wednesday’s first day.

“We’re still tinkering around with a few combinations,” the top-ranked Test all-rounder told reporters via Zoom.

“The beauty about our side is that we’ve had people like [left-arm seamer] Raymon Reifer come back into the squad and do really well [and] Rahkeem Cornwall has obviously been outstanding in regional cricket over the years and in the last Test match (against Afghanistan) he was the Man-of-the-Match as well.

“Jermaine Blackwood had an outstanding first class season scoring the most runs so it’s a good headache to have when it comes to selection and you always want to be put in that situation as a captain and a selection panel.

“I think once you have selection headaches you have guys pushing the barrier and pushing down doors to be selected. I like to wait until the last minute and give myself a very good chance to see conditions and how they change overnight.”

What is expected in the West Indies final XI is a four-pronged pace attack comprising Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Holder.

One of the main points of discussion will be whether to include the 27-year-old off-spinning all-rounder Cornwall for his third Test or use part-time off-spinner Roston Chase as the main spin option, and opt for six specialist batsmen along with wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.

West Indies will be looking to keep hold of the Wisden Trophy they won last year in the Caribbean when they take on the hosts in the three-Test series.

The tourists have not won a series in England since 1988 and have won just one Test in their last 16 here.

However, with last year’s series win still fresh in their memories, Holder said he backed his side to spring a surprise against higher ranked teams like England.

“I’m sure if you look at this West Indies Test team over the last three years we’ve had some really good results,” Holder pointed out.

“We’ve won series, we’ve won Test matches, we’ve beaten top sides in the world. I don’t know how that is in comparison to the white ball format but this team is really ready for this occasion.

“We’ve proven in the past that we can win against top sides and we can also beat top sides in series so it’s all to play for in this series.”

The match, which will be played behind closed doors because of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, bowls off at 11 am (6 am Eastern Caribbean time).

CMC

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