Jason Holder: Wish I had 12 Jermaine Blackwoods in the team
Jason Holder has dubbed Jermaine Blackwood as the fearless fighter he is proud to have in his team after the middle-order batsman's valiant effort with the bat allowed West Indies to clinch victory over England in the series opener.
Blackwood's counterpunch delivered amidst a jittery top-order collapse ensured Holder's men began the three-match series on a positive note by overhauling the tricky target of 200.
The 28-year-old, who is often criticised for his lack of temperament in Test cricket, struck an outstanding 95 enthused with subdued aggression as he rescued West Indies from a nervous passage of play.
For his tough character and brilliant composure on the crease during a difficult chase, Holder termed Blackwood as the ultimate 'team man'.
“Wish I had 12 Jermaine Blackwoods; those are the kind of guys you want to step on the cricket field with. These are team guys through thick and thin,” Holder was quoted as saying by Jamaica Observer.
“I've played lots of cricket with, and lots of cricket against [Blackwood]. We played all our youth cricket together, we played the Youth World Cup together, so I know the player.
“He's a team man, he's a humble team man, and he's one of those guys [who] I know when he crosses that line he is going to give his all."
“Sometimes he feels he could carry everybody on his shoulders…he's that confident a player,” he added.
Blackwood's heroics were not devoid of his characteristic adventurous lofts, one of which finally brought about his demise though, by the time he departed, West Indies were already inches away from a historic triumph.
Blackwood initially was not even considered for selection for the first-choice squad but made his way into the touring party when Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo refused to travel over coronavirus concerns.
He was thus included in the playing XI for the first Test marking the return of international cricket in four months but failed to make an impact in the first innings when he perished for 12 while attempting a wild slog off Dom Bess.
All the talk surrounding Blackwood's change in approach at the Test level, given his splendid exploits in the regional first-class competition, was undermined as a result of his faulty stroke on day three in Southampton.
Nevertheless, the Jamaican made sure to make amends for his ordinary outing and rode his luck at the back of two dropped chances to see West Indies through to a famous win.
Holder admitted Blackwood was disappointed to not score big in the first innings and affirmed his teammate remained focused on rectifying his mistake.
“That's why when things happen like how they happened in the first innings for him — yeah, you're disappointed, but again you can't put a player like that into a shell.
"So it's more or less trying to manage him and trying to help him to understand the different passages of play, where he can be a little bit more selective, where he needs to be just settled and hang in for a bit before going on the attack again because he's an attacking player. It's mainly just giving him that confidence, giving him the support to go on to the game's close,” Holder said.