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January 5, 2007
England's 5-0 drubbing may have been their first at the hands of the Australians for 86 years, but the last occasion came much more recently than that. In 1984 and 1985-86, England slumped to ten defeats out of ten against the mighty West Indians, and Michael Holding was an integral member of the legendary four-man pace attack that doled out those beatings.
But, Holding told Cricinfo, the pride that his men felt in inflicting back-to-back "blackwashes" would be nothing compared to the jubiliation in the Australian dressing-room at present. "I don't think there's a serious comparison," he said. "Australia must feel a lot better about this 5-0 than West Indies about theirs, because the Ashes means so much to Australia, and of course England.
"Having lost in 2005 this was a big comeback for them. The embarrassment of losing has spurred them to these great heights. It's difficult to fight back when you are being overwhelmed on a regular basis," said Holding, who took 249 wickets in a 60-Test career that included 31 wins and just eight defeats. "After Adelaide I thought it would be 5-0.
"This was a team with a double-centurion, a player with a big 150 and a bowler who took seven wickets, and they still lost. What more could they have done to win a Test match? How could they come back from that? When you have been downtrodden it is difficult to lift yourself, and I never expected England to lift themselves."
Holding refused to compare the current Australian team with the great West Indian sides of his day, saying that times have changed and so too has the game. But, he added, he did not believe that Ricky Ponting's Australians were quite the same force as Steve Waugh's side of four years ago.
"When Waugh was captain, he had Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath at their very best, and Jason Gillespie at his very best," said Holding. "I think it was a better bowling attack, and bowlers win matches."
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