West Indies fast bowling great Michael Holding loves the Oval ground, as it is the place where 42 years ago, he routed England single-handedly with figures of 14/149, which had nine victims bowled and three out leg-before.
He commentated on the recently concluded England and India five-Test series and has nothing but praise for the Indian fast bowling attack, which was termed as ‘a bunch of spinners’ by Andy Roberts in 2011.
In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Holding put forth his opinions about the England and India Test series and the Indian fast bowling attack. Here are the excerpts.
He said about his work, “People admire what you did. They want to show their appreciation somewhere and associate with you. The only time I have a problem is when people are hung over, and get a little bit, whatever the word is.”
“This is an outstanding Indian pace attack. You know, everyone has said this is the best bowling attack, not just the pace attack, they have seen India have. I can go beyond, to the early 1970s, and certainly, this is the best bowling attack India have had,” Holding said about the Indian fast bowlers.
He added, “Fast bowlers are very, very important. Everybody knows when you have three-four fast bowlers, good fast bowlers, not just people who take a long run-up, they can win Test matches. India have variety in spin as well. This is a great squad India have – very, very, very good bowling attack. Of course, Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t play, and I think he is one of the best.”
He praised the fitness of Indian team saying, “This Indian team is very, very fit. Just looking at them, when they spend an entire day in the field, the fast bowlers can come back at 6 pm and still bowl at top pace. They are fit, strong, consistent. Mohammed Shami has bowled extremely well this series. He and Ishant Sharma have been consistent throughout.”
He added, “They are all different – different heights, different skills. Bumrah bowled from pretty wide of the crease, Shami gets a lot closer. Shami is not as tall as the others, they can complement each other and bring different skills.”
He opined about the mindset of pacer in current generation and said, “I would say is all fast bowlers were a bit quicker. And that creates more problems. I don’t think you would have found too many batsmen batting outside of their crease to the fast bowlers. As soon as Bumrah came into the team (in 3rd Test) and showed his pace, you saw the difference it made. That is always very, very important. Pace intimidates. Even if you don’t bowl bouncers, the fact that you are quick and can bowl bouncers, can do damage – that is intimidation.”
Talking about India’s next overseas assignment in Australia, Holding said, “The challenge in Australia is going to be able to do something with the ball in those harsh conditions. The Kookaburra ball won’t do anything near as much as the Dukes ball. The seam and the shine won’t last as long, hardness won’t last as long. There won’t be a lot of swing or lateral movement. Their challenge will be to find ways of getting wickets under those conditions.”
He concluded, “Outside of England, it’s a lot more challenging and you have to find ways of getting people out. They did a good job in South Africa. I see no reason why they should not do as good a job in Australia.”
(With inputs from Hindustantimes.com)