India's fast bowling a bit ordinary, says Holding
West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding says even though cricketers are making money through the IPL, the cash-rich T20 tournament is damaging the sport.
Legendary West Indies cricketer Michael Holding was regarded as one of the best fast bowlers of his generation. He bowled genuinely quick, had one of the smoothest run-ups and was aptly called 'Whispering Death'.
He formed an integral part of the lethal West Indian pace attack of the 1970s and 80s and ended with a splendid career record of 249 wickets in 60 Tests.
The 59-year-old was spotted at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, on Saturday, when he came up to catch up his wife Laurie-Ann, who is part of the event organising committee of the Indian Premier League.
"I might not see her till August, as I am going to England to do some commentary, so I have come here for a couple of days to see her," he replied, when asked about his presence at the Wankhede.
Image: Michael Holding
Photographs: Harish Kotian/Rediff.com
'It is good to see that the guys are making some money'
He seemed impressed by the impact West Indian players, like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, have made in the IPL.
"I am glad to see that and I am also glad to see that they are making some money. Cricket is a short career, and in that career you also have to live; so it is good to see that the guys are making some money," he said.
Holding believes the amount of money on offer for playing in the IPL is too tempting to refuse, and even he would have given in if he was still playing. However, he warned that the craze for money is damaging the sport.
"If I was their age and somebody said to me here '$ 600,000, come for six weeks' I will be there, I will be there before they are ready. At the same time, I feel it is going a little bit too far. It is damaging the real cricket; but that is not the cricketers' fault. If I was young, I would do the same," he said.
Holding said the Caribbean Premier League is another addition to the number of T20 tournaments coming up around the world, but nothing comes close to the cash-rich IPL.
"The Caribbean T20 tournament is just another o#8800 you have it in Sri Lanka; the Big Bash in Australia... in Bangladesh; you have one in South Africa. So there is more and more cricket. A lot of people want to play Caribbean T20 because a lot of people want to come to the Caribbean. There is no big money like this. This is champagne and that is soft drink; but the cricket will be good, the cricket will still be champagne," he quipped.
Image: Chris Gayle
Major problem in India is the dearth of quality fast bowlers
Asked about his views on India's fast bowling, Holding was pretty straightforward.
"It is a bit ordinary; that is all I can say! I have seen a few fast bowlers being produced, but they don't last, which is unfortunate. Something is going wrong; I don't know whether it is training or what."
He pointed out that the major problem in India is the dearth of quality fast bowlers.
"Ishant Sharma, when he came, he was quick, but he is no longer. He is not the only one. I have seen quite a few who come along and they start off real quick; they look really promising. They are still good bowlers, but the pace is not there. So they don't create as much havoc as they should," said the former Windies pacer.
Holding was at a loss for words when asked why so many fast bowlers are breaking down. He believes a lot of them spend too much time in the gymnasium building muscles and pay less attention to fitness.
"All the biomechanics, physiology and all... but they are still breaking down; a lot of theory, too much theory. I think going into the gym is great, but I think some of them over do the gym.
"You need to do more running and less gym. Gym is good... and I used to go to the gym, but you couldn't tell because I never spent hours and hours at the gym. You used to run, and especially if you were a fast bowler you used to run to get your legs in the right condition and you did a little bit of gym to get them strong; but nowadays the emphasis on gym is a bit too much. The muscles get big and powerful and then they don't stretch them. So the slightest thing and they tear a muscle. If you haven't got any muscles you can't tear it," he said.
Image: Zaheer Khan
'Steyn is the best fast bowler'
Holding was part of the fearsome pace battery ever seen in Tests. He bowled with Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Malcolm Marshall among others.
He rates Dale Steyn as the best fast bowler in contemporary cricket, but is worried how long the South African will last given the amount of cricket he plays.
"I think he is the best around at the moment. He is a fantastic fast bowler. But, again, he is playing so much. How long is he going to last?
"I don't see a lot of fast bowlers around the world anymore. There is one here and then you have to wait a while and then you see another one there.
"Once upon a time, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, every team had one or two fast bowlers and when I say fast bowlers I don't mean somebody running from the fence; I mean someone really fast," he said.
Image: Dale Steyn
'Narine can't get a wicket in a Test match'
A lot of Indian domestic players have made a name for themselves in the IPL, but Holding believes that domestic cricket must still be valued higher, especially when it comes to judging a player's ability and skills.
"The talent could have also been seen if the selectors were seeing Ranji Trophy or whatever other tournaments you have. You rather have people playing in that rather than this, because this gets a lot more exposure because of the television and all that."
He cited the example of Kolkata Knight Riders' mystery spinner, Sunil Narine, who is a huge hit in the IPL but has struggled to make an impact in Test cricket.
"He [Narine] can't get a wicket in a Test match.
"How many bowlers do you see do anything out there? All of them get hammered. How many bowlers, when they come off the field, you can tell him well done, you were brilliant? All of them get hammered," he said.
Image: Sunil Narine