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BwC S2E3 – Michael Holding | Is he the Morgan Freeman of cricket?


Well let me tell you something, 1983… …if you were outside of Mumbai or
as it was called Bombay in those days… …and you wanted to call Caribbean, you
took up the phone in your hotel room… …you spoke to the hotel operator, the
hotel operator called the Bombay operator… …the Bombay operator called
the London operator… …and then the London operator called
the operator in whichever island you are… …and then that operator called your home. So if any of those links dropped, the call
was dead, you had to start all over again. They may have called him “Whispering
Death” when he was playing… …but now, his voice is as
comforting and safe… …as his bowling was
disconcerting and dangerous. Today I’m with the legendary West Indian
fast bowler, Michael Holding. And I’m going to try to convince him
to love T20 cricket just as much… …as I love it. This is not
going to be easy. Greatest of your time
in terms of batsmen. IVA Richards. No doubt Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander, everybody’s
favourite. Like for me growing up… …for me the money shot was just him walking
out to bat, chewing his gum… – Would you like some water?
– Yes, water will be great. – Mineral water, chilled or room temperature.
– No water for me. – Mineral water, please. – Chilled?
– And rum for… yeah, chilled please. Not very big on the liquid are you? Water is for fish, man! For me, the West Indian fast bowlers
of the 70s, all of you… …I’d see, if I was making a film, I would
see all walking in slow motion… …there’s a cigar, trench coat, a couple of guns.
– Trenchcoat and a gun sticking out. Maybe there’s a hat for
one of you, you now, that’s… Did you guys feel like that? You guys were like
the mob. Like the henchmen of the mob. I don’t think we looked at ourselves
that way. Well, I certainly didn’t. Don’t get in our way,
cause you’re gonna pay. Well the team on a whole was
a confident team. You know… …we figured more times than that, we had
pretty good chance of winning. But we didn’t go around
boasting about it. You didn’t have to. Cause
“Whispering Death” doesn’t shout. Did you have a lot of people referring to you
as that when you were playing… …or did that happen with
smart copywriting only… …people started calling you
that towards the end. Do you remember when the first time
when you heard it? Not exactly. I remember where I was.
And I remember who said it to me. But I don’t remember if I was… I think
more than likely I was still playing. And the person told me it was a guy called Paul Newman that used to write for News Of The World. There is another Paul Newman now
who writes for The Daily Mail. And he was the one who told me about
this “Whispering Death” thing. I said to him, “Where did you
get this ‘Whispering Death?'” He said, “You didn’t know that’s your
nickname?” I said “No” “It was Dickie Bird
who gave it to me”. So who was the biggest
challenge for you to bowl to? There was not one particular guy.
There were quite a few… …in my opinion, great
batsmen in my time. Like who? Who did you… When I first started I bowled
against the two Chappells. They were great batsmen. And as time went on I bowled against people
like Sunil Gavaskar, Graham Gooch… …Gower, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas… …Martin Crowe from New Zealand. People thought, “Oh, four fast bowlers just
bowl bouncers all day, people will get out”. We were meticulous with our planning. And we
sat down and planned opposition batsmen. The only thing we
did not do a lot of… …our batsmen didn’t plan too much
against opposition bowlers. And we bowlers used
to complaint about that. Andy Roberts in particular. He used to
stand up in the meeting and say… “Okay, okay, we plan for their batsmen,
we not planning for their bowlers?” And they might spend
5 minutes on that. And in a time when there was not
too much data or analytics. – It was all there. It’s what you remembered.
– All up here. We had nothing to look back on.
Just memory. What do you think about the over
reliance on data now? Well as you say, they’re over-reliance. In anything you put over on,
it means it is too much. I have no problem with people looking back
on data, looking back on film and whatever. But when it takes over from common
sense and your natural thinking. Obviously it’s got to be too much. So I have to tell you I’m, just like
yourself, a huge fan of test cricket. For me that’s the holy grail. – That’s the ultimate.
– That’s the ultimate. I maybe don’t watch
every ball for 5 days. But I always know what’s
happening in every session. And I said this once
to somebody, I said… “Test cricket is like chess and 20-20
cricket is like speed chess.” Test cricket is like life. You’ll get up one morning, you
don’t feel on top of the world. You don’t do your job wherever you
work, the best that you possibly can. Same thing with test match cricket.
Because it’s 5 days. Doesn’t mean all 5 days you’re going
to be on top of the world. A one day game or this 20-20 thing that they
play whatever happens that day is, that’s it. – True.
– There is no other day. In a test match, 99% of the
time the better team will win. If there’s a result. See, now I like that, I like that.
Because, when you say… …it’s quite interesting that you say
test cricket’s like life… …I think almost 20-20 has become
like what life is right now. – No, no, no…That’s not life. But…
– Which is the wrong version of life. Instant… …people who want everything instantly, instant gratification. They’re not living. – True.
– That’s not living. You ever hear them say
“Walk, stop and smell the roses?” Those people just walk
and pass the roses. For me nothing can match upto test cricket
because the better team is winning. You have sessions, you have
plays, you like setups… We like stuff like that but we’re also
a diminishing breed aren’t we… …of people who like and appreciate the nuances.
– For sure. You know why? Because test cricket is not as
entertaining as it used to be. There’s too much test cricket. And there are
too many games that mean nothing. For me 20-20, is like a blockbuster film.
Right, it’s a blockbuster… …summer blockbuster, Fast and Furious…
– No no, it’s a cartoon …3D, okay a cartoon, 3D glasses. It’ll never get nominated for
an academy award. Some cartoons do though. Not the people who act in them. – Yeah, they can’t.
– Exactly. – Cause they’re not real.
– Exactly. Shooting me down. But people are coming
out to watch it. People go to McDonalds as well. I ain’t gonna tell my kid to go to
McDonalds – Is that food?
– I’m not trying to convince you… – I know. I’m just telling your argument
– I know what I’m up against. I’m not… For me this is a great
learning as well. Is there anything at
all that you think… …not like, I’m not asking if you like it cause
it’s very, I think it’s evident that you… Is there anything in it that you
think could be a positive? Definitely. Definitely. What the shorter forms of the game have done,
50 over and now 20 over cricket… …what they have done is that they have
made people’s mindset change. Cricketers I’m talking about, to be a lot
more positive, a lot more aggressive. – Innovative.
– Innovative. Which then seeps back
into test cricket. Because we see a lot more results now in test
match cricket which is great for the game. So those are big positives that have come
out of shorter forms of the game. I have no problem with that
aspect of it at all. Cricketers are now a lot fitter as well,
much more athletic. You’re seein’ some fantastic
pieces of fielding, and… …some athleticism in the shorter
forms of the game now. That are again slowly but surely gravitating
in and getting into test cricket. So that aspect of it is fantastic. Have you been watching
the cricket at all? – When the cricket is on.
– When cricket starts. When it starts, I’ll watch it. I haven’t seen
any cricket since I got here. But you’re still here, a lot of
people ask me this… I’m here cause my wife is here, not because of
whatever is happening at these cricket grounds. The things we have to do
for love, right? Well, life is a compromise. But she can’t get you to the
cricket ground, can she? Not while cricket is on. I’ve been to the
cricket ground more than once. I love it. I’m trying to bowl these yorkers
but you keep stepping out… …turning them into full tosses and
hitting them out of the park. AB de Villiers taught me. You’ve learnt well. He must be
proud of you. Would you have liked bowling at AB? It would have been a challenge and if you’re
worth your salt you welcome challenges. Sometimes he’s gonna win sometimes
you hope that you’ll win. And that’s basically what happens when you’re a test cricketer or a cricketer of the highest order. It’s not everyday that you’re going to win
whether you are a batsman or a bowler. He made the fastest 50, fastest 100,
fastest 150 all in one innings. I haven’t seen anyone that can play shots in
a 360 degree circle like AB de Villiers. You know you’ve always had batsmen who
can hit the ball all over the park, big sixes. But to hit the ball in all directions, you know, which makes it pretty difficult to set a field for him. And then makes it difficult to
actually bowl to him. You go in with a plan, yes, because you have
to have some sort of a plan. But it’s more a plan of hope
than expectations. You just hope that one day he steps
so far away from his wicket… …that he cant reach the ball.
– You hope he makes a mistake. – But that’s the best…
– And you’ve got to be on top of your game. But he doesn’t make that many. No, well he’s a great player. Great players don’t make many mistakes,
otherwise they wont be great. How do we get more
lethal fast bowlers? – Tell us…
– Play less cricket. – Play less cricket?
– Yeah. Nobody can bowl fast for the amount of
cricket that they’ve been asked to play now. That is what you are saying to preserve our
current lot of fast bowlers, right? Cause they will break down. You can’t
make them bowl 250 days in a year. Exactly. So you play less cricket fast bowlers
will be able to bowl fast when they turn up. They can’t turn up everyday
and bowl fast. Did you see Wahab Riaz bowling to
Watson in the World Cup? – Yeah. That was quick. How many times have you seen
Wahab Riaz do that? Yeah. You obviously have to
really upset him. Not just upset him, because
he can’t do it. That was a special occasion when he thought
hell, I have to get some wickets. So he put everything in. If he was playing less cricket he could do
that on a much more regular basis. He can’t turn up again next week and do the same
thing and then the following week. He can’t. Now when you explain it like that, it
makes perfect sense. I hope. No, it does. It does to me. What doesn’t make sense to me is this cup.
Why would you have this here? It’s not very practical. It’s… It’s still just milk. I believe you’re not very… … you’re not truly Jamaican,
you can’t sing. It’s like saying, I’m not truly West Indian
because I don’t drink rum. – You don’t sing or drink rum?
– No. Who is this impostor? Who is this man?
Check his ID. I’d read somewhere that you had an interesting
thing with music when you were a kid… …was it your father who really
wanted you to have… – Na na na…
– Some music in you or, no? My brother. Even now, he’s
5 years older than I am. Still plays music,
great musician. Used to… …go just two doors in Jamaica and back up
these Reggae artist and that sort of thing. Formed his own band in Germany,
all that sort of thing. He is musically inclined, I am not. We both went to the same school. Headmaster of the school,
when I arrived… said to me, “Your brother can sing,
you’ve got to be able to sing.” His name was Douglas Forest, I said
“Mr Forest, I can’t sing sir.” He said, “No no no, come up on the stage
here you’ve got to be able to sing”. After the first line, he patted me
on the back and said, “It’s ok”. I think you are the
Morgan Freeman of cricket. Everything must have a bit of
narration from you. – I don’t think so.
– It’s familiar, it’s good and it feels comfortable. “Oh we just heard Mikey’s voice.
Everything is going to be alright”. You’re the Morgan Freeman of
cricket broadcasting. You talk about the modern
world and apps… …there’s a guy in England developing an
app with my voice on it. There you go. It might just bum out
but who knows. So it’s a cricket
app or is it…? Yeah, it’s going to
be a cricket app. I wouldn’t even mind your
voice on google maps. When something goes wrong
with GPS and you crash… “Oh, that Michael Holding
made me crash!” And if it’s an old batsman he’d say, “That Michael Holding made me hurt my head again… …for the second time”. Excellent. Thank you so much Mikey. No man, my pleasure.
No problem at all. It was amazing, it was good.

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