MICHAEL HOLDING, a man who was once acknow-ledged as the fastest bowler in the West Indies’ famed four-pronged pace attack, is standing by his view that the team with the strongest batting line-up in the world is the West Indies. Holding, who has made his name as commentator since retiring from Test cricket in 1989, said on a local radio programme this week that the West Indies team possessed the strongest batting line-up in world cricket.
Since that time, a number of people have questioned Holding’s judgement and have wondered aloud if he had gotten carried away with the West Indies’ historic win over Australia on Tuesday.
“Yes. That is so,” said Holding a conversation with The Gleaner on Wednes-day. In making the point, Holding stated that not many batting line-ups couldhave handled an attack of Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath and Andy Bichel as well as the West Indies did. Not even the Australian batting line-up would have had done such ajob, he said.
“The only batting line- up that is close to us is India’s and they are not the most consistent,” added Holding of the team which boasts Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, Sourav Ganguly inaddition to youngsters Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif.
Of the West Indies team,which he compared to the Australians, he said: “We already know that (skipper) Brian Lara was great and with the captaincy a second time around he has been trying to prove himself again.
“Chanderpaul we knew of and Sarwan is now showing his class.”
Opener Chris Gayle and fellow top order batsman Daren Ganga also have the ability to score runs at the highest level, he said.
“You can never tell withGanga and Gayle but they have shown that they can get runs,” said Holding who also used the fact that 22- year-old Marlon Samuels, who impressed all on a tour of Australia as a 19-year-oldwas finding it difficult to getinto the team, as a measure of its strength.
On the Australian team,Holding was full of praise for openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden but elevated vice-captain RickyPonting and wicketkeeper/ batsman Adam Gilchrist to a higher level.
“The two openers have shown that they can score ...Ricky Ponting is a class batsman without a doubt. Gilchrist is a class batsman but on any given day hecould get a hundred as well as nought but Darren Lehmann would not have made many Test teams.
“Steve Waugh at 37 cannot be seen as being among the world’s best batsmen,” Holding said of the man who on the current tourof the West Indies eclipsed his fellow Australian Don Bradman with the most centuries by scoring 30.
Holding also hinted that Australia were headed in a similar path to the once mighty West Indies where they went into the doldrums after dominating world cricket. The Australian team, he said, was an aging one pointing to stars such as Captain Waugh, fast bowler McGrath and even Andy Bichel.
“If you look at their front-line players, a lot of them are not youngsters. I suspect that in the not too distant future they will weaken a bit and possibly go through a similar process to what the West Indies are experiencing at this time,” said Holding, who captured 249 wickets in his 60-Test career.
“Fortunately for them though they have a much better structure than we have and it will not take them as long as it has taken the West Indies to recover,” he added.