No. 12

Boycott b Holding

The perfect set-up, then the perfect kill. It was the most ferocious, exacting opening over by a bowler in a Test match

Mike Selvey

March 8, 2009

Text size: A | A


And so it ends: Boycott loses his stump off the sixth ball © Getty Images
Enlarge
 

Bridgetown, 14 March 1981

It was, Michael Holding has said, as if time stood still. The moment when the off stump of England's premier batting technician, Geoffrey Boycott, was detonated from the Kensington turf and sent flying a full pitch length back towards David Murray. "I saw it," the bowler said, "as if it was slow motion. For a fleeting moment there was not a sound, as the stump came out and I realised what I had done. Then I was hit by a wave of noise that tumbled down from the stands."

Holding, fastest of them all, many say, and one of the purest, had just applied the coup de grace to complete what has come to be regarded as the most exacting, ferocious opening over ever sent down by a pace bowler in a Test match.

To Holding went the second over of the England innings, Andy Roberts already having tested Graham Gooch to the full. Ten minutes or so earlier, in the gloomy interior of the home dressing room in the Pickwick pavilion, "Sluggo", the West Indies' Australian physiotherapist, had worked Holding into a lather, as a trainer might a thoroughbred, the better to prepare him to inflict an onslaught.

Holding surged in, silent-footed, and menacing. Successively Boycott was smacked on the knuckles, beaten outside off stump, and rapped on his inner thigh. Fortitude and skill kept out the fourth and fifth as they reared at him, forcing him back into the crease. The sixth, pitched up and fast beyond comprehension, created his own history.

Watch it on Youtube

This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Related Links
Photographic Memory : Out, damned stump
Rewind to : The greatest over of them all?
Players/Officials: Geoff Boycott | Michael Holding
Series/Tournaments: England tour of West Indies
Other links: 50 Magic Moments

    Trading places

All Out Cricket: In a world where £50m can be staked on a single IPL game, armies of professional cricket traders work the betting markets. But who are these people?

The set-up

The Cricket Monthly: When Tony Greig was outwitted by Ashley Mallett
Download the app: for iPad | for Android tablet

    Automaton, man, inspiration

Twenty years on, Shivnarine Chanderpaul continues to be understated. And that doesn't bother him. What's not to like? By Brydon Coverdale

    85 Tests, 70 defeats

Numbers Game: Bangladesh's stats are easily the worst among all teams when they'd played as many Tests

The case against revoking ODI status

Tim Wigmore: By restricting the number of ODI teams, the ICC is depriving Associates of funds and new fans

News | Features Last 7 days

Champions League T20 still battling for meaning

The thrills are rather low-octane, the skills are a bit lightweight, and the tournament overly India-centric

Busy keepers, and Waqar's bowleds

Also, high scores and low averages, most ducks in international cricket, and the 12-year-old Test player

'My kind of bowling style is gone now'

Former New Zealand seamer Gavin Larsen talks about wobbly seam-up bowling, the 1992 World Cup, and his role in the next tournament

Automaton, man, inspiration

Twenty years on, Shivnarine Chanderpaul continues to be understated, underestimated. And that doesn't bother him. What's not to like?

The umpire's bowling change

Plays of the day from the CLT20 game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings

News | Features Last 7 days