The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ĎYou canít have a set plan for Sachiní

Durban: Michael ĎWhispering Deathí Holding does not need an introduction. And, years after quitting, he continues to be much sought after: By fans and, more important, present-day cricketers. If anything, that confirms the respect Holding (also saluted as the Rolls Royce among fast bowlers) enjoys.

Holding, who has been doing TV commentary during the World Cup, spoke to The Telegraph Thursday morning.

The following are excerpts

On his impressions about the fast bowlers in this World Cup

The ones with class have shown they can get people out... Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Chaminda Vaas, Shane Bond... Basically, they used the conditions well... I hadnít seen much of Bond, leading up to the tournament, but he has the pace and a nice run-up. If he has a fault, itís that he doesnít deliver from his full height. Having said that, he still picked so many (17) wickets... In any case, nobody is perfect.

Holdingís cup pick: Lee, Bond and Vaas

On whether, overall, he has been satisfied with the quality of fast bowling

Very much so.

On whether any one performance stands out

Bond against Australia (six for 23) in the Super Six... He beat the Aussies with sheer pace, left them devastated.

On the relevance of speed

Youíve got to put the ball in the right place, otherwise speed is irrelevant. Look at Shoaib Akhtar. He bowled the fastest ball (100.23 mph), in Cape Town (versus England), but kept going for runs. It would have been different had he combined that pace with landing in the right area.

On his top three fast bowlers in this World Cup

Iíll go for Bond, Vaas and Lee... Vaas is the slowest in this lot, but still had the pace to push batsmen back... All three combine control with pace and use their head.

On whether the Lee-Shoaib debate has been settled in the formerís favour

Lee has certainly taken more wickets... Iíll even accept he has been more effective. However, I donít think the debate has been conclusively settled. After all, Pakistan didnít even make the Super Six and, so, Shoaib got fewer opportunities. In any case, Lee didnít start the tournament with a bang and itís possible Shoaib would have improved.

On the Indian attack

It has done well, given an edge to your team...

On Jawagal Srinath: Doesnít have that pace, but has used his experience, proving to be an example of bowling with common sense. (After a pause) When I last saw him, in the West Indies, he didnít seem interested... He would look away even after getting wickets. Now, he appears rejuvenated. Should he quit' Well, he isnít getting any younger and, if India win the World Cup, it will be an excellent moment to leave.

On Ashish Nehra: Iíve always liked him... He has good pace and reasonably good control... That he is a left-armer is an advantage and, because he can move the ball both ways, becomes more than a handful. His confidence has grown because the captain is showing more faith.

On Zaheer Khan: For him, itís a matter of getting control and bowling the right length. Heís not as quick as Nehra, but can move the ball both ways. Bottomline is that heís a wickettaker, quite like Nehra... The captain canít complain.

On whether the pitches should have been more lively

Some have been good, like at the Wanderers and in Centurion. However, the wickets at Port Elizabeth, specially, were very ordinary... Essentially, in a one-day tournament, you need pitches that encourage strokeplay and give the fast bowlers something to look forward to.

On the West Indiesí future, in the fast bowling department

Jermaine Lawson is very promising and showed that in the game against Kenya... Then, thereís Darren Powell... With little experience, theyíve been made to play the lead role which, to my mind, is unfair... It would have been better had their initiation been in a stea- dy attack instead of a fluid one.

On the West Indiesí failure to even qualify for the Super Six

I donít wish I was there, because there are some I wouldnít have liked playing with... But, yes, it hurts... It pains... Itís a matter of waiting, of looking out for that light at the end of the tunnel.

On how he would have bowled to Sachin Tendulkar

(Laughs) Would have tried to keep him quiet, thereby frustrating him... I wouldnít have had a specific plan, because you canít have one when youíre up against a Viv Richards or a Sachin... But, yes, I would have looked for support. After all, no purpose would be served if I kept it tight, but he got easy runs at the other end.

Finally, his message to the upcoming generation of fast bowlers

Work hard and get stronger... The fitter you are, the better your chances of making an impact... Control and other things come into the picture later.

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