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Cricket news - Being brash, bold, and unapologetically Caribbean
Etchings on every honours board. Statues on every street corner. Call-backs in every commentary stint. Reminders of past Caribbean glories live on in accomplishments, stone and anecdotes.
There's nothing like a World Cup to amplify this noise, and as champions in 1975 and 1979, with both editions held in the UK, it won't take much for a bit of West Indies nostalgia. Wasn't Viv Richards brilliant?
You cannot know cricket without knowing of their great sides and you cannot be a cricketer from the Caribbean without being held to those lofty standards.
The constant comparisons have broken many. Never mind the constant wrangling with West Indies Cricket Board, coaching disputes and other such disagreements that affect on-field performance. Expectations in that part of the world have no filter.
Maybe that's one of Jason Holder's greatest strengths, not letting the external forces get to him. Not all captains of the last 20 years have been so mellow when handed the responsibility of leading the West Indies. Not all have successfully compartmentalised what is within their control and the actions or opinions of those on the periphery.
Last year was something of a write-off, but the start of 2019 was a joy from Holder's perspective. A 2-1 Test victory over England was followed by holding them, the No.1 ranked ODI side, to a 2-2 draw in the one-day series. Holder was a colossus throughout with bat and ball, and at his political best behind the scenes.
Richard Pybus dropped in as coach and then dropped out. Chris Gayle's disagreements with the board were parked as he returned to the ODI side for the first time since July of last year. Holder kept his distance from the messiness of the former and was integral to the latter - and stayed level throughout.
"Oh well it's been hectic man," Holder admits to Cricbuzz. "But enjoyable. Enjoyable but hectic - that sounds about right." It does.
"I think what the start of year, the way we played against England in the Caribbean, showed how these players can play entertaining but successful cricket. It's just getting these types of performances out of ourselves regularly. Because when that comes, everything else becomes a lot easier, you know? Team talks, the media, how we're viewed. But I guess it's easier said than done."
It's taken a while for Holder to grow as a captain and develop a tolerance to the white noise around. Understandably so, given he was only 23 when he took on the responsibility of leading this side back in 2015, replacing Dwayne Bravo. The youngest in that illustrious history.
He was in charge for the previous World Cup which resulted in a quarterfinal finish. A boy surrounded by men, questions were already being asked about whether he had enough about him. The fact he has lasted this long suggests he's done something right.
The results aren't great though: since the previous tournament, only 19 of 67 ODIs have been won. "The desire has always been there," says Holder on that run.
"We've been in situations where we play one or two brilliant games and then let ourselves down. For some reason or another. People could say it was fitness at one stage, but I don't think it's just one thing.
"I suppose if I could put my finger on it we'd be a lot better off in terms of our overall ranking!"
The biggest thing, though, has been Holder's own push around 12 months ago. With the World Cup on the horizon and that sudden tinge of history coming back to mock the current team's shortcomings in the midst of a dire 2018, Holder went on the offensive.
He has always been respectful of previous generations, even to those past greats who had used his side as a dartboard. But he accepted in order to move forward, those greats had to be ignored. History is something to be celebrated, not weigh you down.
"I think we've always been in situations where we understand what the past legends have done and achieved," says Holder. "But it's a case that we have to create our own legacy.
"I don't care about history when I'm out on the cricket field. I know that most of the guys play their own cricket and try and be the best they can be first and let results take care of themselves. And playing together, for each other. That's how you leave that legacy.
"We don't want to compete with guys in our own dressing room or guys who used to be in our dressing room. We want to compete with the world standard. And to be the best in the world you definitely look to be the best and meet their standards."
It's a smart tactic from Holder to embolden the individual, something which he himself is taking on, admitting "my biggest job is making sure I, myself, do right". There's a lot in that, he believes, from being tactically astute, productive with bat and ball and doing what he can to hold high standards off the field.
Between the lines, you may be able to read an acceptance of the attitudes adopted by certain West Indians through the rise of franchise Twenty20 tournaments. These players have made splashes as both value picks and marquee signings. And though some may bemoan the riches on offer, those in the Caribbean are finally getting theirs.
A player who drove that sea change has, of course, been Chris Gayle. He will call it quits after the World Cup, though Holder cedes "only one man knows" if this is really it for Gayle on the global scene. There is a T20 WC next year of course. At the very least, this is the first stop on the worldwide farewell tour.
"He's a champion in my books," says Holder. "He has been one of those entertainers of the game. He's definitely changed the game for me in terms of how you enjoy it, how you go about it and how important it is to just play your style."
Maybe, then, this is what the West Indies need to be at least for the next couple of months. Play in Gayle's image: be brash, be bold, be unapologetically Caribbean.
"I think he is a wonderful advert for us and how we play cricket as the West Indies," effuses Holder. "He is how we should do our thing."
Heck - if you're going to emulate the greats, it may as well be an active one.
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