Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Michael Holding is my favorite

They say you could barely hear him as he ran up to the crease to bowl. He was so graceful. And when he bowled, he was fast. Very fast. Both those qualities together earned him the nickname “Whispering Death”. Nowadays Michael Holding is heard all over the world. And he isn’t as deadly as before. Instead he is entertaining. And he is my favorite TV commentator.

Consider this for a moment: a TV commentator can get jaded quickly. You have to find something interesting to say for up to 3 hours a day, often five days in a row. And when you are done, you have to do it again after a few more days. Needless to say, you run out of things to say if you aren’t very creative. Or if you are as stylishly laid-back as Holding, you could just let your personae do the talking for you.

In a landscape where commentators are trying to make the smartest observations or analyzing situations to death, Holding comes with the most straightforward explanation for everything. His deep baritone is always so relaxed that he reminds you cricket is a game where you are supposed to sit back and have fun.

I enjoy the way he stretches his words and says “Proa-blim” or “boal-ing”. I love the way he makes shrewd observations but never pulls back from calling a spade a spade. And he’s never ever mean spirited – he’ll often try his damndest to understand why a bowler or batsman or fielder is underperforming before he’ll criticize them.

I remember watching a game between Paksitan and India in Karachi on TV a few years ago. The camera zoomed in on a woman in a hijab. It then closed in on her beautiful dark eyes, framed perfectly by the black satiny material. Holding was at the mike. He paused for a very long time. Then he said: “She is aaaaall eyes”. It is easily the most defining Michael Holding moment for me.

No comments: