‘Holder must keep politics and sport apart’


The West Indies have a new Test captain in young Jason Holder, who is 23, and he has been given advice by someone who became skipper even younger, South Africa's Graeme Smith.

The former Proteas opener, who was 22 when he took over and went on to lead the side for 11 years, says it's vital that Holder keeps the politics he'll have to deal with away from the actual team.

The West Indies Cricket Board is still dealing with the fall-out from their abandoned tour to India last year, when the players revolted due to a pay dispute, and this has been a recurring theme over the years.

Smith said on Cricinfo: "I think he's got to understand the unique challenges within West Indies cricket. From my perspective I had to do that in South African cricket also.

"It took me three or four years to come to terms with it. I think when I was 26, I had captained South Africa for four years and I only really started figuring it out then.

"I think that next period was probably my best period as captain, when I understood my team, the type of players I had, myself as a leader, and how I wanted the team to play."

He added of political machinations: "You've got to separate the two. You have to understand and manage that space as well as possible outside, but if you can protect that environment, you can get those players playing for you and get the most out of them.

"The minute the two environments leak [into each other], when there's a lot of politics, it's tough.

"He's got to find a way of galvanizing that environment, and create a culture within that team space where the players want to play for him, want to do well, and separate the two in many ways."

Former West Indies captain and batsman Brian Lara says he hopes the players respect Holder as skipper, despite his age and inexperience, and feels that it's not always the best player that makes the best skipper.

Lara said on Thursday: "Clive Lloyd was not the best batsman, he was not the best bowler back in the early 70s but you could tell that a lot of the players respected him.

"I hope that Jason gets the same respect from the players, and also the board.

"He finds himself in a very tough situation where there are unhappy players but if the board give him the support that he needs and he can express himself, then he can become a very successful captain."