Home > Features > Moments in history >

Nine reasons why I am a Michael Holding fan

Michael Holding, apart from being one of the most deadliest pacer cricket has witnessed, was also a massive hitter of the cricket ball © Getty Images
Michael Holding, apart from being one of the most deadliest pacer cricket has witnessed, was also a massive hitter of the cricket ball © Getty Images

Michael Holding was born on February 16, 1954. Abhishek Mukherjee explains why he went on to become a fan of ‘Whispering Death’ over the years.

1. The man who scared heroes

When I was a kid I had heard vaguely of the name of Michael Holding. I do not remember Holding or his bowling action that vividly (though countless YouTube visits have changed all that). All I remember was that he bowled fast enough to be scary and intimidating to the batsmen. Well, all but Sunil Gavaskar, but then, Kolkata was quite anti-Gavaskar in the early and mid-1980s. Anyone who could intimidate my heroes had to be someone special.

2. Terrorising Boycott

His over to Geoffrey Boycott at Kensington Oval, 1980-81 has gone down in cricket history, and is widely acknowledged as the best over ever bowled. The first one hit Boycott on the glove; the second beat him outside off-stump; the third rapped him on his right thigh; he somehow avoided getting bowled in the fourth and fifth balls; but the last one, too quick for him, rattled his stumps.

3. Flat wickets? What flat wickets?

On a dry flat track at The Oval in 1976 (during the ‘Grovel’ series) Holding returned figures of eight for 92 and six for 57 to bowl out England twice. The pitch was bone dry, the seamers had no assistance, but Holding ran through the English line-up with sheer pace in his armour.

4. Johnners’ blooper

Holding was responsible (well, half-responsible) for possibly the most famous line ever uttered by a cricket commentator. As he was bowling to Peter Willey in the above-mentioned Test at The Oval, Brian Johnston famously uttered the phrase “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey” that has become a part of cricket folklore.

5. Running out two batsmen in one ball?

Holding once threw so hard from long-leg in an ODI at Scarborough that the ball hit the stumps at the batsman’s end so hard that it went on to hit the wicket on the other end (and dislodge the bails) to find Alan Knott short of the crease by a distance; the umpires (David Constant and Arthur Jepson) got so confused that Knott was not given out.

6. The penchant for sixes

An absurd 216 of Holding’s 910 Test runs have come in sixes — a number that amounts to 24%. The corresponding numbers for other big-hitters read as follows: Shahid Afridi 18%, Chris Cairns 16%, Adam Gilchrist 11%, Virender Sehwag 6%, and Adam Gilchrist 5%. Those shoulders were brutal.

7. Why bowl slow, indeed?

Commentator: Mikey, did you guys bowl slower deliveries in your era?

Holding: Why bowl slow when you caaan bowl faaast?

8. What on earth is an ice-bath?

During the ongoing Test between Australia and South Africa at Centurion a commentator suggested that Shaun Marsh may require an ice-bath after his marathon on Day One. All was going well till the poor man asked Holding what the Jamaican thought of ice-baths.

“I’d raaather haaav them in my drink,” came the curt reply.

 

9. The impassive baritone

To top everything, once, during a Sanath Jayasuriya sixfest, Tony Greig had been going berserk over the Sri Lankan’s lusty hits. As the steely forearms unleashed yet another punch over the ropes, Greig, tired by now, left it to ‘Mikey’.

With the crowd roaring, everyone shouting, yells and shrieks all around, everyone glued to the television waited for Holding’s voice to respond to the occasion. He did, serenely, in that reassuring baritone: Onaather six.

That was all; all; a perfect victory of apparently expressionless silence over hyperactive shrieks.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 10, 2014  at Dubai

Australia won by 5 wkts

Photos

India vs West Indies 4th ODI at Dharamsala

Videos

AB de Villiers speaks ahead of New Zealand ODIs

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Yasir Shah: The new spinning sensation for Pakistan

Virat Kohli takes wicket with the first (0th?) ball of his T20I career

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography — a litany of complaints with a few redeeming patches

Banning West Indian players in IPL can affect the ‘Brand value’ of the event – Will BCCI take this gamble?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 BCCI India India vs West Indies India vs West Indies 2014 New Zealand Pakistan Salaam Cricket South Africa West Indies West Indies cancel India tour 2014 West Indies tour of India 2014 West Indies vs India West Indies vs India 2014

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Live Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st ODI at Mount Maunganui

Kevin Pietersen is probably the best cricketer I have played with: Eoin Morgan

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: SLC defend decision to tour

Jesse Ryder’s New Zealand comeback possible: Mike Hesson

James Neesham can provide more impetus to New Zealand’s weakened batting up the order

Virender Sehwag turns 36: Five most memorable innings of the Nawab of Najafgarh

New Zealand begin ICC World Cup 2015 preparations with 15 ODIs in store

Virender Sehwag paid birthday tribute to by Sophos Antivirus

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: 5 memorable matches

Fan of the Day

Gautam Singh

Gautam Singh

474 Posts | 5 Fans

Video Highlights Mohammed Yousuf drops catch after watching a girl in bikini

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here