Phil Simmons: First Test a battle between Jason Holder, Ben Stokes

The West Indies head coach hopes Holder can get on top of his rival in the contest at Ageas Bowl.

Jason Holder at a nets session at Ageas Bowl on Monday.   -  Getty Images

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons believes the first Test at Ageas Bowl will be a battle between two all-rounder captains - Jason Holder and Ben Stokes.

“I think that it’s going to be a toss-up between these two all-rounders and hopefully Jason can do what’s necessary to get on top of Ben in this first Test,” Simmons told reporters.

“Ben is one of them who leads from the front. That’s been shown by all his exploits before in cricket, [so] we will have to make sure that we get on to him very early, because he likes to do what is necessary for his team.”

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Simmons doesn’t see Joe Root’s absence as an advantage for his team. “You have to be careful how you use an advantage because, with Root not being there, you have some youngster who wants to make a name for himself. And sometimes that’s even harder than the players you know, so you have to be very careful about saying that it’s an advantage,” he said.

Experienced hands

Simmons said Stokes’ lack of experience as a captain won’t be a problem as he would have veterans in James Anderson and Stuart Broad to turn to for suggestions. “Ben has not had that time [as captain] but they’ve had a successful team for a while, and that helps. With the experience that he has behind him - Jimmy and Broad and people like that, there’s a lot of experience to help him on the field if he comes a cropper. But it’s hard to really say if that’s a big advantage.”

 

Simmons also said he wasn’t worried about his batting unit and that the batsmen have prepared well. “I’m not concerned about the batting. The batsmen have worked very hard on getting to where they are now, and all that it takes now is for their mindset to be right for the Test match,” Simmons said.

“We keep talking about the batting, and the bowling has been strong, but we must field well and catch well also to give ourselves that chance. Our frame of mind is that we have to play well in all three facets of the game in order to beat England.”

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