Wednesday 28 October, 2020

Holding sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' for West Indies cricket

Fast bowling legend Michael Holding.

Fast bowling legend Michael Holding.

Fast bowling legend Michael Holding feels West Indies can once again become a global force. However, the Jamaican, who is one of the most respected voices in world cricket, said that the Caribbean side needs to nurture young talent properly.

Holding was speaking on Mason and Guest radio talk show in Barbados on Tuesday.

Referred to by the chilling moniker 'Whispering Death' during his playing days, Holding said he can see "light at the end of the tunnel" for West Indies cricket following the emergence of talented players such as Nicholas Pooran from Trinidad and Tobago, Shimron Hetmyer from Guyana and Shai Hope from Barbados.

Of the trio, only 24-year-old Pooran is yet to play Test cricket but has already shown the potential in limited-overs cricket. Hetmyer, who is the youngest among the three at 23, has featured in 16 Tests.

Hope, who is 26, is the most experienced of the three, having featured in 31 Tests and scored two centuries, both of which came in West Indies' historic series-levelling victory at Headingley in 2017. Hope's twin centuries in that Test made him the youngest West Indies player to achieve the feat, beating Gordon Greenidge's record.

"Another thing that I am happy with is that youngsters are now looking forward to representing the Windies again, and everybody is now making themselves available again, which is important,"  Holding said.

"Those three guys (Pooran, Hetmyer, and Hope) are three of the most talented I have seen in the last three to four years. When I look at cricketers, I look at who can make (it to) other teams around the world, and those three guys can make most other teams," Holding further 

"It is a matter now if we can garner that talent, if we can produce the best of that talent, and then produce, of course, a good team. Because individual talent ain't gonna go as far as a good team with a good team spirit and a good management structure around that team."

Holding  said Pooran, Hetmyer, and Hope could be picked in most teams around the world right now.

"Most people can look at teams and look at people and say, 'Yeah, that guy looks as if he knows what he is doing.' And I can call three names immediately that I think have a lot of talent in the batting department. Pooran, Hetmyer, Hope. Anyone going to tell me that three guys cannot bat? And there are others, but I am picking those three because those three I think are the most talented in the last two-three years.

"It's now about making sure that these guys exhibit the right discipline to get the best out of themselves. And I'm absolutely sure that there are other youngsters around the Caribbean that can come around that nucleus and give us a good team."

"When I look at cricketers I look at who amongst these guys can make to other teams around the world. That is how I look to see that we have talent. And those three guys I think can make most teams around the world as batsmen."

Holding was a key player in the legendary West Indies squad that dominated international cricket at a time of global race riots and apartheid, with an exceptional winning streak that lasted from the mid-70s to the early 1990s. He watched Caribbean cricket's subsequent downfall in the first decade of the 21st century, especially in Test cricket. 

Holding remains one of the icons of West Indies cricket and one of the finest fast bowlers Test cricket has seen, having picked up 249 wickets from 60 Tests between 1975 and 1987 at an average of 23.68.

The 66-year-old Holding has been with Sky Sports for the past 21 years but said it is unlikely that he will continue commentating beyond 2021.

West Indies are ranked at number eight in Test cricket, number nine in One-Day Internationals and number 10 in Twenty20 Internationals.



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