A draw’s a triumph; cricket continues its affair with the incomprehensible

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Twelve balls remain.

Over 100 required to win; but that’s no longer the equation.

Three wickets in hand.

James Tredwell has the ball. The Kent second XI-cum-England Test spinner looks to pry the number eight out.

Ninety-five not out.

It’s said that Americans cannot comprehend cricket – five days of royal struggle, often with no one a victor at the end. But often, a draw’s all the fun. Those dying balls, one team focused solely on attack, another solely on defence, encapsulate the toil of nearly fifteen sessions.

With resolute determination, Jason Holder looks down the wicket, sets himself up, and slogs a four.

Ninety-nine not out.

Eleven balls remain.

Three wickets in hand.

Holder has batted amazingly. A man of 23, he is as mature as any stalwart with a decade extra.

Steve Waugh’s autobiography, Out of my Comfort Zone, had a chapter entitled ‘Not how, but how many’.

The reverse was true for Holder. Whether he’d been nought not out or 150 not out at stumps mattered not a dot. The only factor was the second column of the scorecard.

JO Holder | not out | 103

“The proof of greatness,” Sir Neville Cardus once wrote, “is in the answer to the challenge and in the performance of duties which test a man beyond the scope and power of ordinary mortals.”

So it was with Holder. It was an innings of greatness; not of great batsmanship, but of greatness nonetheless. Denesh Ramdin was outstanding, but Jason Holder was the man who took the game and made it his own.

Dot.

Ninety-nine not out.

Ten balls remain.

Three wickets in hand.

England’s time is slipping away fast.

“Three good balls” is the mantra being repeated by all those around the shires.

But a 33% hit rate of wickets-to-balls is increasingly impossible.

Holder sets himself up again, and hiffs the ball over long off…

…it’s four.

One hundred and three not out.

Nine balls remain.

Three wickets in hand.

Dot.

Dot.

Dot.

Over.

Dot.

Dot.

Dot.

Dot.

The game is over, called off with two balls remaining. Kemar Roach has performed valiantly, Denesh Ramdin and Devon Smith have both scored fifties.

But it’s Jason Holder who has stolen the day.

England’s woes continue, unable to close a match out against the eighth ranked Test team.

For Phil Simmons, the new West Indies coach, the match is a welcome introduction. Already his team is showing fight, and spine, and valour.

Today is the day Jason Holder’s career is made.

And with the fight shown by a new breed of West Indian cricketers, it could be time for the archipelago to finally rise again.


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