HOLDING, MICHAEL – Former Jamaican and West Indian bowler
ROLE: Right Arm Fast
Right Arm Batsman
BORN – Tuesday, February 16, 1954 – Kingston Jamaica
Friday, November 28, 1975
First vs. Australia
Brisbane (Aged 21)
– Matches: 60
– Wickets: 249 – Average 23.68
– Runs: 9 10 Average 13.78
– Catches: 22
– Last Test: 1987
First vs. New Zealand
In the 1970s, the West Indies’ cricket team was the king of the game and ruled international cricket for two decades with the awesome force of its fast bowlers and powerful batsmen. Bowlers in the likes of Joel “Big Bird” Garner, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and the late, great, Malcolm Marshall were names whose mere mention could strike fear into batsmen the world over.
Holding, was described by many as the most ferocious of the lot. To the umpires he was malevolent stealth personified, so they christened him “Whispering Death.” However, to former England opener Geoff Boycott in the cauldron of Kensington Oval, Barbados, in 1981, Holding has gone down in cricketing history as the finest, fastest, most ferocious of all time. He was referred to as the “Rolls Royce” of fast bowling and certainly lived up to the billing.
Tall and slim, the outspoken Jamaican seemed destined for a successful athletic career when he decided that cricket would be his cake. The choice proved successful. There are many fans who still talk about an over with the new ball Holding bowled to the obstinate England opener Geoff Boycott in the third Test of the 1980 series at Kensington Oval in Barbados. Operating from the northern end, he repeatedly beat the bat and then bowled Boycott for a “duck.”
Now an international cricket commentator on television and radio, it was a moment that Holding himself, took in stride, saying it was the replay of a tape a few years later that helped him to remember the event as it unfolded. Yet, Holding’s eight for 92 and a match haul of 14 for 149 against England on a lifeless pitch at the Oval in London in 1976 must be rated as one of the best bowling performances ever.
Holding took 249 wickets at an average of 23.68 in 60 Tests and was also an effective limited overs bowler. He found himself under the microscope on the 1980 tour of New Zealand when he kicked over the stumps, arising from a disgust with the standard of umpiring in a series which West Indies lost 1-0. A Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1977, Holding also played for Derbyshire and Lancashire in the England County championship as well as in Australia and New Zealand. Holding won a medal in the 1979 World Cup final.