India vs West Indies: Will Jason Holder suffer the Darren Sammy fate or solidify talk of team progress?

The only thing left to happen in the script is Holder having his Sammy moment before CWI is forced to remove him. Or can the Windies somehow produce a modern sporting miracle and leave India without losing the series?

Colin Benjamin, Oct 03, 2018 22:52:13 IST

In the modern age of professional sport one very robotic trend that journalists have to put up with is the spectacle and ritual of press conferences.

This wonderfully staged dynamic where a team’s media manager stands next to the coach or player as they answer questions in a very generic manner, skillfully avoiding, never fully telling the full truth and always seeming unusually positive for their supporters, even when the reality of their performances doesn’t match up.

However, there always comes a crisis communication point, where no amount of spin can mask the poor on-field results. Changes are forced to be made and this is where Windies find themselves going into the India Test series.

File image of Windies captain Jason Holder. AFP

File image of Windies captain Jason Holder. AFP

Windies' previous visit for a Test series to India was for the hastily arranged Sachin Tendulkar farewell series in 2013.

Veteran Caribbean journalist Fazeer Mohammed had criticised the West Indian board for playing that series outside the then Future Tours Programme (FTP) just for money instead of focussing on team interests, while the BCCI were feuding with Cricket South Africa (CSA).

The West Indian team had entered that series on the back of six consecutive Test wins against New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The team last had such a sequence of Test wins under Viv Richards' captaincy in 1988. This factor propelled the board, and then coach Ottis Gibson to push the narrative that team was clearly on the up and that it was a vindication that the controversial experiment to give Darren Sammy captaincy in a late 2010 Sri Lanka tour, was paying off.

Opponents were skeptical and said those wins versus the minnows and a struggling New Zealand team led by Ross Taylor meant nothing. The real test of progress would come when they faced a major nation again, considering before those six wins, Windies had lost three previous series versus England, Australia and India and pressure on Sammy was mounting.

In the end, those skeptical views were proven correct as Windies were blown away in India and away to a rejuvenated Kiwi side in late 2013 who had just began what would prove to be a highly successful tenure under Brendon McCullum’s captaincy.

This prompted Sammy himself to say 'some careers on the line' and he duly lost captaincy after that tour.

Similarly now, although less dramatic than 2013, under new FTP that was created in June to incorporate the new Test championship, Cricket West Indies (CWI) have scheduled a full tour to India while simultaneously having an important domestic 50-overs competition that according to the board is key in determining future World Cup squad selection.

The public relations offensive now is that Jason Holder who also got captaincy in illegitimate circumstance in a late 2015 Sri Lanka tour like Sammy in 2010, is showing progress as a team because he is getting Test match wins especially overseas. Victories away to England and Pakistan for the first time in 17 and 26 years respectively have been regularly cited by board as proof of progress. But the reality is that those wins came in series defeats, and the Windies have not moved away from the number eight Test ranking under Holder as was the case during Sammy's reign.

The recently drawn series at home versus a Sri Lankan team that didn’t have services of Rangana Herath, Angelo Matthews and Dinesh Chandimal (in the deciding Test) was a missed opportunity – especially in the modern age when most teams are such terrible tourists.

Whether the board is being facetious or willfully deceptive to the Caribbean public, teams don’t get ICC ranking points and move up table with Test wins, a side has to win and draw series against teams ranked higher.

In comparison to Sammy, who won seven out of 30 Tests and three series as captain from 2010 to 2014. Holder has won six out of 29 tests and two series as captain from 2015 to now, yet somehow his captaincy picture gets painted as a team progressing to heights that haven't been seen during these post-1995 declining years.

This sure sounds like Deja vu of a movie we have seen before.

The only thing left to happen in the script is Holder having his Sammy moment before CWI is forced to remove him. Or can the Windies somehow produce a modern sporting miracle and leave India without losing the series?

Updated Date: Oct 03, 2018 22:52:13 IST

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