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The fastest, and then some
Part eight: With Michael Holding you always felt he could be quicker than he already was. And that was a scary thought (00:00)
Producer: Ranjit Shinde
March 27, 2012
The fastest, and then someMarch 27, 2012
Michael Holding, nicknamed Whispering Death - why is that? Because he was such a quality bowler, bowled like lightning, but his run-up - you almost couldn't hear him coming. Normally a fast bowler comes up with lot of aggression, lot of power, puts a lot of effort into it. Michael just glided along. I know umpires like Dickie Bird said to me that they were stood there waiting for him and they couldn't hear him, that's why the "whispering" part. "Death" because he got wickets and he could hurt you… in an era where there weren't many helmets around. For one period until Packer [World Series] in 1977-78, there were no helmets.
He could make the ball move a little bit, but I don't think movement was his greatest strength. It was genuine pace, accuracy. He was a tall bowler as well, 6ft 4in, so he got a certain amount of bounce.
When I played against him, he was the fastest bowler I ever faced. I always felt that although he was that quick, he was bowling within himself, and that is little bit scary - when he is the fastest you faced in your career and yet you feel that there is little bit more to come if he really wanted it. I think that was because he came in with such ease and fluency. He made it look beautifully rhythmical, didn't he? As if it was no real trouble to him. Bowling fast is a great skill, and you are blessed if you can bowl quick, because any captain would die to have a fast bowler in his team. They are the ace in the pack, they are the ones that usually win Test matches.
A good man off the field. I mean, he will be remembered for certain moments in his career: for bowling me out in his first over in Barbados in 1980 , when I never laid bat on ball. One hit me in the chest, one on top of the thigh, missed a ball, two I gloved out of my neck, and then he knocked my off stump over. That will be a magical moment that will get played.
I suppose also the incident in New Zealand when he kicked the stumps out of the ground.
But I think also there will be the magical time when he bowled England out at The Oval in 1976 on what was a pretty flat pitch and nobody else could generate the pace that he could. But you see, fast bowlers generate pace through the air, nobody bowls the ball that quickens up after it pitches - it's an illusion, that. Every ball slows up a little bit. But if you can get it quick enough through the air, you can do people with pace, and that's what he did at The Oval. It didn't do anything - flat pitch, hot sunny day - but he got the ball through the air so quick and accurately that he got a bundle of wickets, and that probably will be his finest moment. Truly great bowler.
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