FILE - Wiaan Mulder. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
FILE - Wiaan Mulder. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Wiaan Mulder vs Jason Holder could be the deciding factor in the Proteas Test series against the West Indies

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jun 9, 2021

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Wiaan Mulder will - selection permitting - get the opportunity to measure himself against one of the best seam bowling all-rounders currently on the circuit when South Africa faces the West Indies in the first of two Tests starting on Thursday.

Might Mulder vs Jason Holder decide the series? That may be asking too much of the 23 year old Mulder, just four matches into his Test career. Although if he’s looking to make a mark, there is no time like the present.

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For Jason Holder this series provides an opportunity to exact a measure of retribution against a team that has inflicted many a painful defeat. To be fair, most of that pain was caused by one man - AB de Villiers, whose centuries at the Wanderers and the Sydney Cricket Ground broke One-Day records, and whose century at Newlands in the 2015 New Year’s Test sealed a series win for the Proteas.

Holder has shown he is made of stern stuff and is currently ranked as the best all-rounder in Test cricket by the ICC. Until March this year he carried a heavy load as West Indies captain, taking a side that was forever changing and missing its biggest stars because of the T20 format, and helping to achieve some significant wins - most notably against England. The 2019 series win against the English in the Caribbean is arguably the West Indies’ best achievement under his captaincy, and while some of the personnel has changed for this series against the Proteas, the tourists would do well to study that series to understand what a challenging prospect awaits them in St Lucia.

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Holder’s leadership last year as the West Indies showed support for the Black Lives Matter social movement was exemplary with the 29 year old speaking with great intelligence and sensitivity.

Freed of being captain, Holder may flourish, and looms as the biggest threat for the Proteas. His statistics after 47 Tests, illustrate a very fine player - he averages 33 with the bat and 27 with ball - his batting is technically correct with his long levers allowing him to strike the ball powerfully when the occasion warrants while with the ball, although not very quick, he is deadly accurate and skillful.

Mulder would do well to learn from Holder. Last summer saw the young South African, who made his first class debut as a 17 year old schoolboy in 2016, make some big strides after being recalled to the Test side. In three matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan he impressed with the ball, mimicking Holder in some respects - he’s not express pace, but is accurate and if there is some swing available he can be very dangerous.

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With the bat he has offered hints of his potential. However having twice made scores in the 30s, he’ll be aware that bigger contributions - especially in a struggling batting line-up - are required.

Last year Holder vs Ben Stokes was the crucial individual battle that helped decide the series in England. Mulder vs Holder, doesn’t have the same kind of excitement about it, but that’s because the South African kid needs to make his mark at senior international level. If picked, it’s the ideal opportunity for Mulder to live up to the hype created when he was coming through the schoolboy ranks. There’s no better measurement than the game’s best, which as an all-rounder, Holder currently is.


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