Three years shy of turning seventy, but never shy, let alone afraid, to voice his views- passionate and intimidating that they may be, much like his own bowling craft: Michael Holding was a menace on the field for batsmen. And off it, he’s no different. Not that the 67-year-old Jamaican nicknamed ‘Whispering Death,’ is fearsome with his words behind the mic, but given his pure, unflustered-by-anything views on the game, make him a commentator as rare as they come and one who’s expressions stand on the pillar of honesty caring little for bias.
Isn’t that what one truly misses in this day and age where some of the most potent voices commentating the game are easily seen leaning toward one opponent?
One of the things that does make Michael Holding a fearless voice unafraid to express his true views on the game is the recent statement he offered toward T20 cricket, which, in his view, wasn’t cricket. Declaring boldly that he commentates on cricket not something in the realm of entertainment, he didn’t have the most pleasant of things to say in the context of IPL and other T20 leagues.
And while all of us have our own versions about how far is T20 cricket fair and just at a time where repeated efforts are being made to revive Test cricket, truth certainly is that when Michael Holding offers views on cricket, be rest assured, those won’t be sugar-coated to please anyone.
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That’s why his recent observation on the ongoing England versus India Test series founds particular interest from the viewers on both sides. So the key question is- who does one of the legendary cricketers in the game think will take away the series win, that’s win the First Test, rain-riddled, ended in a strange draw?
The following is what the Hindustan Times had to say in the context of Mr. Holding’s views:
“I find no reason why India cannot win the series. They have already acclimatised with the conditions [the team have been in the UK since June for the WTC final]. They should concentrate on playing without worrying about the result. They have a well-balanced side of young and experienced cricketers. India are looking good with Jasprit Bumrah returning to form. Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj look promising. Mohammed Shami is an experienced campaigner. I am sure the Indian pacers will be able to utilise the English conditions well.”
That being told, are India actually firm favourites to win the series, with there being quite a few issues ailing the visiting side as far as Kohli’s army are concerned:
- The poor batting form of India’s #3 Cheteshwar Pujara, who’s usually resilient and composed and one whose fourth inning average against the side happens to be 6, believe it or not.
- Virat Kohli, the captain’s own form with the bat. He’s a batsman whose last Test century, the 71st in international cricket, came in November 2019.
- The very fact that Rahane, the team’s vice captain hasn’t really been amid the thick of runs.
That being said, whilst runs are crucial from these three vibrant and established cricketers, what’s most important is that India do fire the opening salvo in the series, the first having been consumed by the rains. Second Test is due to be played at the spiritual home of Cricket, i.e., Lord’s and will go live tomorrow, August 12.