It was languid verse as he ran in and destructive pace as he let the ball go — a rhythmic lead-up to a wrecking finish.
Michael Holding turned around from far, far away, where the eyes had to squint to see. And then he ran in fluid, silent, long strides, with an action almost hypnotic in grace and athleticism. And as he waltzed into follow-through, the ball darted at rates seldom witnessed even in the heydays of pace bowling in the 1970s. His stealthy, extensive run up was soundless and serene. Umpires were seldom aware of his approach till the corner of their eyes caught him stretched in his delivery stride. Not for nothing was he was he called "Whispering Death."
In 60 Tests, Holding ended up with 249 wickets at 23.68, boasting a strike rate of 50.9. Having moved on from the field, he has hovered in the fringes ever since, as a commentator whose voice is popular, recognised and often lovingly imitated.
Michael Holding was born on February 16, 1954.
Text: Arunabha Sengupta