Mumbai: A forthright Michael Holding on Saturday termed the Indian bowling attack as "ordinary", with most of them like Ishant Sharma starting off as quicks and then losing out on pace. "It's ordinary. That's all I can say. I've seen a few fast bowlers, who come in and bowl quick when they start, but they don't last which is unfortunate. Something is going wrong. I don't know if it's the training or whatever," Holding known for his straight-talking told reporters here today.
He cited the example of Ishant, who went off the boil after starting as an out and out quick bowler. "Look at Ishant Sharma. When he came in, he was quick. Now he's no longer quick. He's not the only one. I've seen it happen to quite a few others too. They are still good bowlers, but the pace is not there and they don't create as much havoc as they should," Holding explained.
The Jamaican pointed out that players spend a long time at the gym to get fit but are not running enough. "I was chatting with Sudhir Naik about all the theory that's going into fast bowling and stuff like bio-mechanics and everything. They are still breaking down. There is too much theory. Going into the gym is great but some of them over do the gym. They need to do more running and less gym."
"Hitting the gym is good but there is too much emphasis on gym now. And what happens is they get big and powerful and dont stretch enough and the slightest bit of stretching causes them to tear a muscle," he added. "Remember one thing, if you don't have muscle, you cant tear it." He was all praise for Dale Steyn but said the South African may not last long due to excessive cricket being played these days.
"Yeah, he's best fast bowler that's around. He's fantastic. But he's playing so much cricket, how much is he going to last? I don't see a lot of fast bowlers in the world anymore. In the 70s, 80s and even 90s, every team had one or two genuine fast bowlers. When I say fast bowler, I don't mean someone who is running in from the fence, I mean someone really fast," he said. The West Indians have been doing well in the cash-rich Indian Premier League and Holding said it has damaged the real cricket.
"Yes. It's nice to see them do well and it's nice to also see them make good money. If I was their age and somebody said to me here are USD 6,00,000 and come and play for six weeks, I'd be there before anybody else. At the same time, I think it's going a little too far. It's damaging the real cricket, but Id do the same. Such is life," he said.
Asked if too much T20 cricket has affected other formats, Holding said,"It has affected every other form of cricket. If you get to watch something for three hours and so much excitement and dancing girls and fours and sixes, they get hooked on that. Not too many people will want to sit through a five-day game. When it gets a bit slow, they tend to fall asleep. That's life." He said the real talent that is found in domestic games but people don't watch them because they are not televised.
"Lot of players play that than they play this. This gets highlighted because T20 gets televised. Sunil Narine gets wickets here, but can't get a wicket in a Test match. What talent are you talking about," he said. West Indies is all set to have it's own T20 league and Holding said,"That's just another one. We have Sri Lanka, we have Bangladesh, you have the Big Bash and the IPL...A lot of people want to play the Caribbean T20. But nowhere there is money like this. This is champagne and that is soft drink. The cricket will still be champagne though."
Asked if he is open to the idea of mentoring an IPL side like Sir Vivian Richards, Holding said,"I think everyone knows, I'm not interested. So they wouldn't be asking. I think that is public knowledge." Asked about India's chances in Champions Trophy, Holding said,"India's batting is so strong. They can get a lot of runs. Even though their bowling is not so strong. But if you get a lot of runs, you win games. You can have an unbalanced team but still win."
When pointed out that the 15-member squad is without star players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir, he said,"How does it matter? They still have a lot of batting. You don't think these youngsters can bat? In England if the sun shines, they are not going to leave too much grass on the pitch. The wickets are not going to be like Test match pitches."