Birthday special: Michael Holding – Top 3 spells of ‘Whispering Death’

Cricket’s traditional format of the game has witnessed numerous fast bowlers use to red-ball to great effect, but none more so than former Windies pacer Michael Holding. The Jamaican was one of the fastest bowlers to have ever graced the game, with batters afraid of even making eye contact with him during his runup. Nicknamed the ‘Whispering Death’, Holding raced to 249 wickets in just 60 matches. He was one of the integral parts of West Indies’ four horsemen. On his 69th birthday, we list some of his best works with the red ball.

5/26 against Australia, 1985

Clive Lloyd’s West Indies team went to Sydney for the third final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup against Australia. Lloyd won the toss and elected to field first. Michael Holding ran amok with the ball, taking five Australian wickets and conceding just 26 runs in ten overs. England restricted Australia to 178 runs. The visitors won the game and the series thanks to Holding’s exceptional bowling. This earned him the player of the series award.

6/21 against Australia, 1984

Michael Holding’s love affair with the Australian continued when Perth hosted the first Test between Australia and West Indies. The visitors batted first in the series opener and posted a handsome total of 416 runs. This was thanks to centuries from Larry Gomes and Jeff Dujon. Australia got nowhere near that total and England bowled out for a paltry total of 76 runs. The Australian batters were clueless against the guile and skill of Michael Holding. He returned with spectacular bowling figures of 6/21. The visitors won the game comfortably thanks to his efforts.

8/92 against England, 1976

England hosted the West Indies for the fifth Test match of the series at the Kennington Oval in 1976. They faced the wrath of Michael Holding. The tall Windies bowler used the red ball to a terrorizing effect, coupling his raw pace and unmatched discipline. The visitors batted first in the contest and posted a mammoth total of 687 runs after Viv Richards’ trailblazing double century. Holding’s sizzling bowling spell of 8/92 rolled over England for 435 runs in their reply. England were set a daunting target of 435 runs in the fourth innings, which they fell short by quite some distance as Holding dished out another ruthless display of fast bowling, returning with 6/57 to take his tally to 14 wickets for the match.