Respect cricket heritage, says Holder
Some of the current crop of West Indies cricketers are unaware of the rich cricketing heritage bequeathed to the region by such brilliant cricketers as the Three Ws, Sir Garfield Sobers, George Headley and Sir Wesley Hall, says former Hampshire County cricket professional and international umpire, John Holder.
Commenting on an observation attributed to celebrated Trinidadian author C L R James where he said any analysis of an innings by Sir Everton Weekes demonstrated the application of high intellect, Holder said: “Building an innings is like building a house. You build the foundation. Now when you begin an innings you do not know what the ball is doing or how the pitch is playing so you need to have a look and you need to build your confidence. In the early stages of an innings you do not want to play many strokes, you want the ball strike the middle of the bat. The longer you stay at the crease the better you see the ball. For example, when Sir Vivian Richards was hungry for a big score he would play the ball from under his nose. Some players even talk to themselves when batting. You need to build an innings.”
Recalling an interview he saw some years ago with Sir Everton and an English broadcaster at the Oval, Holder said: “It was an outstanding interview. One of the things that really impressed me was Sir Everton’s command of the English language. He was able to explain himself so brilliantly. You have to have high self-esteem and a desire to be as good as you can be. If you do not have high self-esteem no matter how talented you are, you are not going to go very far. He was able to excel in his field at a period of social and economic oppression by the ruling class.”
Holder, who represented Hampshire as a fast bowler and was also a cricket coach in Western Australia during his career, had a word of advice for young players who aspire to become top fast bowlers in the international arena.
He said any player who aspires to be a fast bowler has to be physically fit, but he found that there was a tendency today for aspiring fast bowlers to spend lots of time “pumping iron” in gyms.
“Fast bowling is different in that you need strong legs. You need a lot of stamina to bowl fast. I remember speaking to Andy Roberts when he was
in his prime. He told me that he used to go to the beach in Antigua and just run for hours in the surf to strengthen his legs. I spoke to Sir Wes Hall recently and he told me that when he was preparing for a Test series he used to run five miles in the morning and five miles in the evening just to build up stamina. Fast bowling is physically very demanding , but it is also hugely rewarding. If you are genuinely quick you can be intimidatory because no batsman likes genuinely quick bowling,” Holder said.
Stressing that there was no substitue for discipline and hard work in any sporting discipline, Holder cited a golf player who is reported to have said that the harder he practised the luckier he became.