Every cricket series or a tour entirely has a specific matchup that takes the central position. For the England-West Indies Test series, which will mark the resumption of international cricket after a long break of four months, the Ben Stokes versus Jason Holder battle is claimed to have become the cynosure of the series. Both are one of the best all-rounders in the format, and both will be captaining their respective sides, although for Stokes in only a one-off affiar. But Holder, the Windies skipper, reckons that he doesn't get enough credit for his performance as does his rival in this contest, despite being the No.1 all-rounder in Test cricket as per ICC rankings.
Holder holds the top spot in the rankings chart the all-rounder section while Stokes stands second. Yet, each time the word 'all-rounder' pops up world cricket can't talk enough about Stokes.
"I don't really like to get into these personal accolades or ICC rankings," Holder said ahead of Wednesday's first Test between the sides at the Ageas Bowl. "Ben has always been talked up and quite rightfully so, he's a really good cricketer, but the ICC rankings say that I'm the No. 1 ranked allrounder and maybe don't get as much credit as probably I deserve, who knows?
"I don't get caught up with it to be honest. Journalists are there to write their stories, I am merely here to play cricket. It's always a good battle on the field when you face competitors like Stokesy, face competitors around the world."
While both have been impressive in their department, it was Holder who had played the deciding role in the last series between the two nations that ended in favour of West Indies claiming a 2-1 win. Whiles Stokes averaged 37.20 with the bat and 22.80 with the ball, Holder scored his maiden double century that helped the hosts defeat England by 381 runs and win the Wisden Trophy.
Besides, since 2018, Holder has been statistically the best all-rounder in Tests, averaging over 40 with the bat and an impressive 14.22 with the ball. Stokes averages 30-plus in both the departments during the period.
|Player||Mat||Runs||Bat Av||100s||Wkts||Bowl Av||5-fers||Ave Diff|
|JO Holder (WI)||11||680||42.5||1||53||14.22||5||28.27|
|RA Jadeja (INDIA)||14||693||53.3||1||48||27.68||0||25.62|
|Shakib Al Hasan (BDESH)||5||268||29.77||0||22||20.5||1||9.27|
|BA Stokes (ENG)||24||1627||37.83||3||52||30.38||0||7.45 |
But much has changed since the last series. Stokes went on to have a phenomenal summer, which included the World Cup title as well. And now he will be leading the side in the Southampton game in the absence of Joe Root.
"I'll give my advice to Stokesy after the series," Holder said. "England are in capable hands: he's an excellent cricketer, a great competitor and I'm sure the guys in his dressing room look up to him. He'll have experienced campaigners in his dressing room to help him along, I'm sure, so I wish him all the best in this one game as captain."