Jason Holder is the brightest spark in West Indian cricket.
It’s been a whirlwind six months for the all-rounder from Barbados, who, aged just 23, has already written himself into West Indian cricketing folklore having become the youngest ever player to captain the islands (in the One-Day format).
He followed that achievement with his first Test century against England in April and returns to action in the international arena this month as the Windies entertain Australia in a two-match Test series.
We caught up with Holder and asked about his thoughts on the series and the importance of the Caribbean Premier League, in which he features for defending champions the Barbados Tridents…
Q: How do you reflect on the last six months?
A: It’s been up and down. But I think the bad days which I’ve had have been erased by the good days we’ve had. I’ve relished and achieved a few things in terms of my Test hundred and the very important series draw against England. I’ve had some very good experiences at the World Cup where we won a few games and I had a man-of-the-match performance there.
"Australia have a quality bowling attack and world-class batsmen. It should be interesting" - Jason Holder
We all complain about the lows and the tough times your body goes through and then you have a day like we did on the last day of the Test match in Barbados and you put everything aside and accept it. For me, whatever you achieve you must enjoy it and just relish it as long as possible.
Q: You’ve got a big series coming up now against Australia. How much are you looking forward to getting back out on the field?
A: It’s a series I am very much looking forward too. They’re currently number two in the rankings and to play against good opposition in your home territory is something to relish and look forward to. For me, it’s just about continuing where we left off against England. It’s about consistency for us as a squad and that’s how we will move forward. We need to find a way to win as well as drawing games now.
Q: What challenges are they going to represent?
A: They have a quality bowling attack with the likes of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson. They have some world-class batsmen - Steve Smith has had a very a good year, you’ve got Michael Clarke, you’ve got Shane Watson. It should be a very interesting series.
Q: After that it’s the return of the CPL. How excited are you about this year’s tournament?
A: I’m really excited. The CPL is a competition I look forward to every year. To play in front of familiar faces, at familiar grounds in a vibe and an atmosphere you are used to speaks for itself. The majority of the stands are pretty much full and it’s a competition I look forward to playing well in. I just have to curb my excitement a little bit and concentrate on the Australian series first.
Q: How important has the competition been to your development?
A: I’d say it’s helped tremendously, perhaps equally as much as the IPL. You know whenever you’ve got a system in place where you can bring together international players to mix with local players, I think the local players always feed off their experience and their knowledge and try to emulate them to know what is required to play international cricket.
"We'll have higher scores, bigger crowds and a more vibrant party in the CPL this year" - Jason Holder
Everyone’s goal is to play international cricket and to aspire to the highest level. So to have people who’ve been there and can pass on any knowledge they may have in order to get there speaks volumes for the competition.
Q: What should we be looking out for in the 2015 CPL?
A: Higher scores. I think we will have some higher scores this year. I think everything will just be stepped up. The standard keeps getting better and better. You know last year we played too many day games and that was very tough on the fans to leave work and come and watch the cricket. This year we’ve gone back to the 2013 format where we played most games at night so I think that we will have a better atmosphere in the sense that we will have bigger crowds and a more vibrant party. That should push and motivate the players even more.
Q: And finally, will you have your captaincy eye out looking for any Windies stars for the future?
A: I think a tournament of this magnitude is great for seeing how players can handle themselves under the international microscope, so you can get a pretty good gauge of what a player has within him. The more younger players we can have being successful in the CPL, the more West Indies cricket will be heading in the right direction.