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 in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014 (16:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 12, 2014  at Sharjah

New Zealand won by 4 wkts

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Josh Hazlewood looks back at his 5-wicket haul

Pakistan vs New Zealand, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi: Key clashes

Live Cricket Score, South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 3 at Centurion

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: India reach 71/1 at stumps

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi Preview: Teams prepare for high-octane finale

Anil Kumble Australia India Ishant Sharma Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin Ricky Ponting South Africa

India buckle down to reach 71/1 at stumps on Day 3 of 2nd Test against Australia

Live Streaming: South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 3, at Centurion

Live Cricket Score: South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 3 at Centurion

Live Scorecard: South Africa vs West Indies, 1st Test, Day 3, at Centurion

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: Murali Vijay bowled by Mitchell Starc

Pakistan vs New Zealand, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi: Key clashes

Stiaan van Zyl’s century on debut earns him a dream start to Test cricket

Varun Aaron: Memories of a teammate

World Cup 1987: Viv Richards decimates Sri Lanka at Karachi

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane: Steven Smith holds key for Australia

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here