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Picking the brains of Roach and Gabriel during England tour was invaluable, reveals Chemar Holder

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Chemar Holder is representing St Lucia Zouks in CPL 2020

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Picking the brains of Roach and Gabriel during England tour was invaluable, reveals Chemar Holder

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Anirudh Suresh

09/03/2020

St Lucia Zouks star Chemar Holder has revealed that he cherished the time spent in the bio-bubble with the experienced Windies trio of Roach, Gabriel and Holder, who, according to the youngster, provided some invaluable insight. Holder, in an exclusive chat, further spoke about his goals for CPL.

Should things continue to transpire the way they have been over the course of the last 18 months or so, then it shouldn’t be long before there are two “Holders” in the West Indies Test side. The first one, Jason, we all know of, but the second one, Chemar, who we don’t, might yet, some day, become the best of the two. It certainly isn’t beyond his reach, that’s for sure. 

One glance at the “Future Fast-Bowling Sensation? | Best of Chemar Holder So Far!” video uploaded by Windies Cricket on YouTube will tell you everything you need to know about the St Lucia Zouks star and make you understand why the hype is indeed justified. 

A towering Barbadian quick of the classic 80’s Windies pacers’ mould, Chemar Holder has been making hulking inroads on the Caribbean domestic circuit, particularly in the four-day format. At just 21, Holder manifested his talent in the ‘A’ series against the touring Indians in 2019, where he accounted for 15 scalps in 3 games and made life hell for the likes of Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari, and then backed it up in his first full season in the 2019/20 Regional Four-Day Competition by claiming a remarkable 36 wickets at a ludicrous average of 18.91.

So when the youngster received his maiden Windies call-up earlier this year, for the historic tour of England, it was almost an inevitability, rather than a surprise. Although Holder’s participation in the tour was restricted to just two intra-squad warm-up matches representing the “Brathwaite XI”,  the tour, as revealed by the man himself, was far more valuable to him than what meets the eye. In an exclusive chat with SportsCafe, Holder spoke about his maiden run out with the Windies side and revealed how the month-long tour provided him with the opportunity to pick the brains of three of the best in the world - Jason Holder, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.

“I would say it was a good tour knowing that it was around a serious time where Covid-19 had taken over the world,” Holder told SportsCafe in an exclusive chat.

“We went into a secure bubble, we had to work from there, train hard everyday, play cricket hard. I didn't really get the chance to talk to Stuart Broad or Jimmy Anderson but, at the same time, I had the likes of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder in my own camp, so I picked their brains, a lot, during the tour. I would say that I got some good advice from the trio, during the tour.”

It is one thing travelling to England as a 22-year-old for your first ever outing with the national team, it is completely another to do so and live life inside a bio-bubble. But as if the fact that Holder’s first experience in international cricket came inside a bio-bubble isn’t crazy enough already, the youngster, then, from England, directly transported himself to another bio-bubble in Trinidad, where he spent a week in quarantine with his St Lucia Zouks teammates for the Caribbean Premier League

Having now spent close to three months in two different bio-bubbles, Holder drew comparisons between the ECB bubble and the CPL bubble and revealed that the presence of a limited number of teams and players made life easier for him in England.

“In England, there weren't many teams, so you had to get up early to get breakfast. The biggest difference is that here (in the Caribbean) players don't have the luxury to be able to train as much (as in England). In the bubbles in England, it was a lot easier to do fitness drills and also to roam around because the hotels were basically attached to the ground, but here in Trinidad, you have to wait a certain time - time slots - to go and do your stuff. It is kind of tough knowing that you are accustomed to doing one thing and now everything has changed,” Holder said of his bio-bubble experience. 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, it is what it is and at least for a good part of one more week, Holder will have no option but to spend life inside a bio-bubble. On the flip side, however, the youngster wouldn’t really be minding spending time in the bio-bubble in Trinidad, for his side, St Lucia Zouks, have been on an absolute rampage thus far this season. After enduring a disappointing campaign in CPL 2019, finishing fifth, the Zouks, this season, under the leadership of Darren Sammy, have already won more games than they did in CPL 2019 and are currently placed third, primed to clinch a spot in the knockouts. 

Interestingly, the Zouks’ strong run this season coincides with the signing of Chemar Holder, who, last season, played for defending champions Barbados Tridents. Like his outing with the Windies side earlier this year, Holder’s opportunities in the Tridents side in CPL 2019 were limited - he played just 1 game - but the Barbadian revealed that despite sitting on the sidelines, he garnered a ton of valuable information which he, in turn, incorporated into his game. CPL 2020, in comparison, has been more fruitful for Holder already, having played thrice and picked three wickets, but the youngster has asserted that his primary goal is to contribute to the side in any little way he can.

“Looking back at the CPL my team won, Barbados, there was a lot of advice given by the experienced players and I took in a lot of that information and put it into my cricket. So I'm looking forward to getting more opportunities (this season) and hoping everything goes well. I'm looking to do the best for the team (St Lucia Zouks) and also take a few wickets,” Holder spoke of his CPL goals and experiences. 

Holder not getting enough games to play in the shortest format can be attributed to his record in T20s, which is not so impressive. In 7 T20 games, the 22-year-old has struck just 6 times, conceding over 10 an over, and this might, perhaps, be a byproduct of his style - bowl fast and attack the batsmen - which is invariably better suited for red-ball cricket. Speaking of his approach in T20 cricket, the right-armer revealed that he consciously tries not to be predictable but conceded that there are a lot of intangibles that play its hand in the format.  

“T20 cricket, I'd say, is based on how the days go, how the pitches play out and how the batsmen is batting. Personally, I try not to be predictable - try not to be the same - and switch up things a bit. But yes, I have not been working on any new variations or change-ups thus far.”

He will, of course, have plenty of time to work on those variations, but for now, Holder’s focus will solely be on his side’s next game against table-toppers Trinbago Knight Riders on September 5. 

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