Quality of sport determines entertainment value, not spectators: Michael Holding

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Michael Holding, former West Indies fast bowler has opinionated that the entertainment value of any sport can only be determined by the quality on display on the field and not by the spectators witnessing it in the stands.

In an exclusive interview with PTI, Holding, citing the example of how successful the restart of the English Football Premier League has been, despite the absence of crowds, said, “Entertainment in any sport is determined by the standard of play in that sport and not by what is happening in the stands. Crowds are very important to add the atmosphere but like football, that has restarted in the UK, the entertainment has been the standard of football played.”

Holding also gave his opinion on the ban of usage of saliva to shine the Cricket ball, stating that it will not be that big a problem. The Jamaican with 249 wickets in 60 Test matches from 1975 to 1987 said, “As I have said before, I don”t see the ban on using saliva being a problem. Perspiration does the same thing unless the polisher has something other than just saliva in his mouth.”

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Upon being asked if the economic implications of COVID-19 is going to have a negative impact on Test cricket in coming days as boards might be inclined to play more white-ball bilaterals, Holding said, “I dont see how that should affect the type of cricket played. I would think the most money going into the coffers of cricket boards will be from TV contracts. That being the case, it should be a matter of supplying the number of days of cricket that the contract says,” he said.

Holding has been quite vocal about his disdain for the shortest format of the game, so when he was asked why he hasn’t been a part of the IPL commentary panel once in its 12 year history, he simply said, “You haven’t seen me in the IPL and you haven’t seen me (commentating) on any T20 game because I don’t do that form of the game.”

Holding, who’s previous commentary stint in India dates way back to 2014, when the West Indies toured India for a 5 match ODI series which was truncated due to a financial battle between the board and the players, clarified the reason behind him not being involved in the BCCI’s panel of foreign commentators ever since, as he said, “As for doing cricket that India is involved in, I am sure you’ve seen me on India-England series and India versus South Africa series. I work in England and SA so if they are in those countries I work on those series. I worked on the India-West Indies series that was abandoned in 2014.”

The next year will be the last that the 66-year-old will be seen as an active commentator. When asked about retirement plans, the man famously nicknamed ‘Whispering Death’ replied, “My post retirement will consist of as little as possible. That”s what retirement means I think.”