Michael Holding, the great West Indian fast bowler and respected TV commentator was interviewed by David McBean, CricInfo's West Indies coordinator, in his office in Jamaica, 24 November 1998, and moderated by azzie.

Moderator: Hello Mr.Holding and welcome to #cricket

Michael Holding: Thank you for having me

Moderator: We have a whole bunch of questions, that people are eager to ask, but one of the biggest concerns seems tobe the situation between the WI board and the players. so along these lines the question was asked....

Q: from Jay Bhalodia Mr Holding, don't you think that by agreeing with the players, the WICB has lowered its status or power?

Michael Holding: Definitely not, but I think the board were backed into a corner because of the politically sensitive tour of SA. They had to get the tour going, and if backing down was the only way they had to

Q: from Dave Ghatt In view of the embarrasing situations that WI cricket has faced over the past year, i.e, over-aged players sent to the Youth tournament in South Africa, the Sabina pitch fiasco, the "misunderstanding" that led to the sacking of re enstatement of Mr Lara and Mr Hooper, and numerous others, firstly, do you agree that the WICBC is mainly responsible, and secondly, do you think it is time for the resignation of the president of the WICBC?

Michael Holding: Firstly the over-age players that were sent, the WICBC or the CEO (Steve Camacho) were caught unawares because the timing of the tournament was changed, because of the location in SA. Normally it is held in the Northern Hemisphere at a different time of the year, so the later time of the year meant some people were over-age. It nevertheless is a poor excuse for what happened, if your job is to check these facts.

Secondly the Sabina pitch falls directly under the control of the Jamaica Cricket Board, as do all the other pitches in the different territories fall under the respective cricket associations, rather than the WICBC. The Board has to rely on respective cricket associations to hold up their part of the bargain.

I don't think the resignation of the President will help the situation, because whoever is in power, if the individual boards don't perform we will continually be asking the president to resign. There needs to be control from the WICB over the individual boards to ensure that they do their job, and uphold their responsibilites, whether by change of constitution to give the WICB more power or whatever means.

Moderator: Thanks Mr. Holding for your answer on that controversial topic Now let me switch to something easier :-). A lot of our fans are interested in your opinions about the current cricketers. Many of them would like to know how you rate Sachin Tendulkar vis a vis his current contemporaries and also with regard to Viv Richards. Your comments?

Michael Holding: Right now he is definitely the best batsman in the world, but I would prefer to see him making runs against real top-class fast bowling, facing up to bouncers, before I would even think of comparing him to Viv Richards.

Q: from Intiaz Mohamed What are your thoughts on Reon King? Do you think he is ready for Test cricket?

Michael Holding: Very good bowler, but I'm not sure he is quite ready for Test cricket as yet. However, by the time Walsh and Ambrose retire he should be ready, and will fit in quite nicely.

Moderator: Mr. Holding, who is the best bowler in world cricket today? Also who do you think is the best captain in the game.?

Michael Holding: I would prefer to name the top three bowlers when fit and in their prime, which would be Ambrose, Akram and Shane Warne. Mark Taylor would be my choice for best captain.

Q: from Ramesh Swamy Which team according to you stands first in terms of test cricket and one day individually?

Michael Holding: Australia for test cricket, however Pakistan if settled could give them a good run and for 1-day South Africa & Sri Lanka would be joint number one.

Q: from Rawl Collingwood At the end of the 1970s the West Indies team had five great fast bowlers: Garner, Croft, Roberts, Marshall and yourself. Since that time West Indies has yet to produce that level of bowlers. Do you think this is true, and if so why?

Michael Holding: That is definitely not true. What I can say is that we have not had the same quantity of quality fast bowlers all at the same time since then, but since those times we have produced Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop and now Nixon McLean who if we could all get to be in the same team at the same age together could be compared to the great quartets of the 70's.

Moderator: A few questions are concerned about the future of West Indian cricket, so let me paraphrase them in one: - What is your opinion of that, do you think it's bright or do you think it will never reach again the glorious heights of the 70s-early 80s?

Michael Holding: I wouldn't say that it is bright right now, we are struggling in a few departments such as the opening positions, wicket-keeping, and when Walsh and Ambrose leave, which is not too far from now, we might be struggle in the bowling department. Considering the fact that we are supposed to be going through a transition and losing many stars, we haven't done too badly and have only been beaten by two teams. Most teams who go through this transition stay there for a while, e.g. England. As for regaining the glorious heights of the 70s and 80s, it would depend on how much work we do with the youth of the Caribbean and how much work we do in nurturing them to the highest level of cricket.

Q: from Shariq online from Boston,MA You has a wonderful leg cutter....I have heard that Malcolm Marshall taught you how to bowl that....who in turn was taught to bowl it by Lillee and Lillee was taught by Snow....why is it that the fast bowlers of today are not getting the same sort of guidance from peers and great cricketers such as yourself?

Michael Holding: I don't know about that sequence of events. If anything it would be Lillee who taught me, and probably I passed it on to Malcolm Marshall, although one never knows. Lillee, for example, now does a lot of coaching in India and Sri Lanka, and he was very instrumental in the development of Srinath, so the older generation are still passing on their knowledge. I do informal or ad hoc coaching, I don't do it as a job, but I do coach when asked by different fast bowlers at home and around the world

Q: from Alex, who interviewed him for CricInfo in Bangladesh and says hello What changes if any would Michael like to see in the TV presentation of cricket and which commentators does Michael like to work with most?

Michael Holding: TV presentation at the moment is very good, and it depends heavily on the director in charge of the broadcast. The director who gives more wide shots of the field placing, instead of mainly close-ups of batsmen and bowlers, gives the person at home a better overall picture of what's happening, and people at home in their living rooms need that sort of perspectiive... People I prefer to work with ... Ian Chappell is my number one preference, probably because he is a good friend, but he also knows the game well. I also like working with Bob Willis, although I think he could do himself more justice by being more jovial with his commentary instead of being more deadpan. Ravi Shastri is someone I also enjoy doing TV commentary with.

Interviewer (and typist): At this point I will ask Michael Holding a couple of questions ... host's prerogative:-). At some point, will you do an update to "Whispering Death", and what can we expect from it?

Michael Holding: Definitely, I am already making plans to do one update where I will include a lot more details that were left out plus add a few more chapters on what has gone on since then. This is with regards to my commentary and WI cricket

Q: from the interviewer Following on, will we get the real reason why you abruptly retired?:-) Relations between yourself and your contemporaries?

Michael Holding: I don't think I abruptly retired ... it happened in the middle of a tour, but it happened when I discovered that I had an injury which would have prevented me from playing in the two test matches in that tour, and I had been planning to retire two years before when WI had toured Pakistan. I was told by the WI selectors that I need not retire, take the Pakistan tour off, and play the next tour. Cricket touring had become quite strenuous by then for me, and I needed a bit more time in between tours to recuperate as I was not one of those big strong fast bowlers who could keep going on and on and on ...

Q: from Ateeq Ahmed What is the key to being a fast bowler, and how can one improve strength and conditioning?

Michael Holding: Well the key to being a fast bowler is 1), fast bowlers are born not made and it is a very strenuous job that takes a lot of character to see through, and 2) you have to be prepared for lots of frustration and lots of pain, and those are the two main attributes of being a fast bowler. As for the strengthening, the easiest way to do this is to do weight-training under supervision, but it is also important to have a good diet, because without the right foods, weight training can have no effect and can hinder instead of helping Conditioning is all about running, because fast bowling is about a lot of running, and this type of training helps to prepare you. Conditioning is all about running, because fast bowling is about a lot of running, and this type of training helps to prepare you. Running can take two forms, running for distance, and also speed running (sprinting), and you have to do both.

Q: from Kalim Iqbal Michael... Do you have any plans for running for the ICC Presidency or any other similar capacity?

Michael Holding: Not at the moment, I am enjoying cricket commentary which is now my profession, and I am about to sign a 4-year contract which would prevent me even joining the Jamaica Cricket Board. I would need to start at this level first, so obviously this is out for now.

Q: from Dave Liverman and Samir (both on-line) I was lucky enough to watch you take 14 wickets at the Oval against England in 1976 (as well as seeing Viv's 291 in the same match). Do you rate that as your best bowling performance (it was some of the best quick bowling I've ever seen)? .. What was his favorite batting performance, I remember him hitting 5 sixes off his buddy commentator Willis at Leeds 1984, how about that one?

Michael Holding: I suppose I would have to rate that as my best ... it is not everyday that one takes 14 wickets in a match, but I would certainly think that in other test matches as I got older and knew exactly what I was doing, I learnt to appreciate and enjoy my bowling more. My batting performances that I remember more are the ones that helped the WI win. That innings at Leeds with the 5 6's was an important one since the WI went on to win. I also remember my first ever 50 which helped WI to beat India in Jamaica in 1976, when the series was tied at 1-1 going into the final test

Moderator: Now this is another questions of interest asked by many: What is your prediction for the SA-WI series?

Michael Holding: Well as a West Indian, I hope that the Windies would do well, but looking at it realistically SA should beat the Windies

Interviewer: Following up, what is your opinion of the team composition and the captaincy?

Michael Holding: I think the best available players are in South Africa, and as I said before we have problems with the opening slots and the wicketkeeper where we will struggle. I think everyone knows I was not in Brian Lara's corner as far as the captaincy was concerned, but unfortunately we haven't got a choice. My objection to Lara being captain has nothing to do with his captaincy on the field or his cricket brain, but I think his shenanigans off the field doesn't set the right example for youngsters growing up looking for someone to emulate. This includes his recent leading of the blackmailing of the WICBC.

Moderator: Who do you think would be the right person to lead WI then?

Michael Holding: Well I did say, unfortunately we do not have a choice

Interviewer: From Monn, online, What do you think about the recent chucking controversies. Is ICC dealing with them in the correct fashion or should there be another procedure?

Michael Holding As a member of the committee which examines chucking, I cannot comment at this time.

Interviewer: A question from Mashid Raman: Mr.Holding, Have you seen Bangladesh playing?What do you think about them and their future? Please give your honest opinion.

Michael Holding: I haven't seen them, so it would not be fair to comment. I do know that they are being coached by Gordon Greenidge and that is a step in the right direction.

Q: from Wasim Mr Holding I really appreciate that you are playing a benefit match for Winston Davies. Could you tell me more about the match?

Michael Holding: I did agree to play that benefit match, but I am still awaiting confirmation and details. I think it is a very worthy cause, and it was a very unfortunate accident to happen to a good man.

Moderator: OK, this will be the last question, so let me ask it. First of all thanks for coming and giving us your time to patiently answer all these questions. What do you see for the future of Michael Holding? More broadcasting, or do you have other plans as well?

Michael Holding: I try not to look too far into the future. As I said before, I have a new four year contract for cricket commentary. That will take me to age 48, and I will look again once I get there

Moderator: Well, thanks again, and we hope you come back to talk to us soon.

Michael Holding: Thank you for having me, and hopefully I'll be back at some other time

On-line chat

Date-stamped : 25 Nov1998 - 16:12