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'Not curtains for me in Test cricket': Windies star defends putting T20s above Australia tour as weakened squad named

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21st December, 2023
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West Indies star Jason Holder insists his Test career is far from over, despite making himself unavailable from the team’s upcoming Test tour of Australia.

The Windies, once a cricketing superpower but who haven’t won a Test down under in the 21st century, unveiled an inexperienced squad with which they will face the reigning World Test Champions in January, with Holder and fellow regular Kyle Mayers both choosing to feature in the International League T20 tournament in the UAE instead.

However, Holder will feature in February’s three-match T20I series against Australia, having reportedly been informed by Cricket West Indies that he would need to play to be considered for the team’s T20 World Cup squad, to be played in the Caribbean and America in mid-2024.

The 32-year old, who has 155 Test wickets at 28.8 and captained the team between 2015 and 2020, told ESPNCricinfo his decision to opt out of the Test tour is to ‘give myself the best chance of playing in that World Cup’, saying his days in the longest format are far from over.

“By no means is this me turning my back on Test cricket,” he said.

“It’s not curtains for me in Test cricket by any means. It’s my first time going through something like this and I felt that it was necessary to be as honest and as open with CWI as I possibly can.

“It was a very difficult decision: I just feel as though this is the right cricketing decision for me at this time.

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“As much as I love Test cricket, I want to give myself the best chance of playing in that World Cup. I felt it was probably best to prioritise and focus on playing as much T20 cricket leading up to that as possible. I will probably sleep a little bit better knowing that I’ve given myself the best opportunity to do that.”

Holder’s unavailability comes after he was among a number of senior West Indies players, alongside Mayers and white-ball star Nicholas Pooran, to refuse a central contract from CWI for the 2023/24 season.

However, he is still keen to play for the Windies in an upcoming three-Test tour of England in July 2024, immediately after the T20 World Cup, as well as a later home series against South Africa.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 11: Jason Holder of West Indies bowled Mitchell Starc of Australia for 11 runs during day four of the Second Test Match in the series between Australia and the West Indies at Adelaide Oval on December 11, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Reed – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“I will do everything possible to make myself eligible for those Test series and have spoken to the coach and selectors to reiterate that,” he said.

CWI chief executive officer Johnny Grave has said Holder’s unavailability will give fresh faces a chance to become Test regulars moving forward, and confirmed the veteran will not be punished for his opt-out.

“We accept that players have to make choices and we hope that players understand that we also have to make choices,” Grave said.

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“We’re not going to change the philosophy that we can’t guarantee any players selection for any international series. We’re certainly not moving on from Jason Holder, but him not being in Australia will create an opportunity for someone else to perform.

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“We’re not going to deny NOCs [No Objection Certificates] or get into public spats with players… if they choose not to play for West Indies, we’re not going to try and punish them. We’ve moved on from those days.”

Holder endured a torrid tour of Australia during their visit down under for two Tests in the 2022/23 summer, finishing with 41 runs at 10.25 and taking just one wicket at 223.

West Indies Test squad to tour Australia

Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Alzarri Joseph (vc), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves, Joshua Da Silva, Akeem Jordan, Gudakesh Motie, Kemar Roach, Kevin Sinclair, Tevin Imlach, Shamar Joseph, Zachary McCaskie.

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