Johannesburg: Michael Holding and Brian Lara have not been the best of friends over the years. The rift between the two came into the open once again when the former paceman remarked that Marlon Samuels would have done a better job than the legend in the World Cup.
Reflecting on West Indies’ early exit, Holding said it was a mistake to ignore in-form Samuels at the cost of superstar Lara.
“Well I said (before West Indies’ first game against South Africa) that he (Lara) should not have played. Lara did score a hundred in that game but what did he do after that' I really believe that Marlon Samuels could have collectively contributed more than Lara.
“Unfortunately, Marlon was injured and unavailable for the first game and after that the team management just could not seem to find a place for him in the squad,” Holding said.
Talking about the Indian team, he felt it is not right to compare Sachin Tendulkar to his look-alike Virender Sehwag and that the World Cup has exposed the stark difference between the two.
“Look, you can’t even begin to compare Sachin and Sehwag. One is right up there and the other is down here,” Holding, nicknamed the ‘Whispering Death’ in his hey days, said.
“When the West Indians were touring India last October, there was a lot of talk about Sehwag being the next Sachin and I said right then that the two are like chalk and cheese.
“The World Cup has completely exposed the difference between the two,” the West Indian legend was quoted as saying on the official World Cup website Monday.
Holding, who scalped 249 wickets from 60 Tests at an average of 23.68, also felt Sourav Ganguly had “improved” as a captain over the last one year.
“Sourav is improving as a captain. When the team was in the West Indies last May, the way he would glare at the bowlers was just not right. It must have been very discouraging to the young guys but I think he is improving.
“There is a vast difference between last year and now. Presently, I could not see anybody replacing him as captain,” Holding said.
The former fast bowler also felt that Australia, unbeaten in their seven World Cup games so far, were not invincible.
“Let’s just say that they’re not invincible. I think New Zealand have challenged them in recent times when they toured Australia and they are definitely capable of doing it in the World Cup,” Holding said.
The trick to beat Australia would be to not lose early wickets, he said. “Australia’s plan is simple — get rid of the top two, three, even four wickets.
“By the time part-time bowlers like Darren Lehmann come on to bowl, they are not bowling at the best batsmen so they just automatically become more effective. But if you can keep wickets, may be lose just one in the first 12 or 13 overs, you stand a good chance against them,” he opined.
Holding gave full marks to the frontline batsmen for performing upto expectations and among the bowlers he was all praise for Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas and India’s Ashish Nehra.
“The top guns Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist have all fired. In the bowling department, I would say that Chaminda Vaas and Ashish Nehra have done commendably.
“Nehra impressed me when he came to the West Indies and has improved considerably since then in pace.”