Michael Holding

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Michael Holding caught on camera while performing his run-up to first ball in his over in test against England. The match was scheduled to start in seven hours after taking this photo.

“Holding is holding his bat”

~ Cricket commentator on Michael Holding

“He is the Whispering Death, approaching in so quiet a fashion that you could be run over by him without even hearing it.”

~ Umpire on Michael Holding

Michael Holding is one of the best known 'Windie' cricketers in history, just after Brian Lara and Viv Richards, and several other names that I can't remember.

He was renowned for his extremely long and slow run-ups that were prone to making batsmen highly confused. Paradoxically, his extremely fast deliveries were remarkable for their ability to make a hole in a batsman's stomach if aimed properly...

Reasons for Long Run-ups

For the religious among us who choose to believe lies, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Michael Holding.

Early in his childhood, Michael Holding wanted to be a long-distance runner. However, Jamaicans are reknowned for being far too lazy to run whole marathons, so he had no future in this particular career. Therefore, his rasta parents suggested to him that he play cricket, a game popular in the West Indies, or take drugs instead. Surprisingly, Michael did not choose drugs, although his parents cared little as they were high themselves.

Holding did as his parents told him before overdosing, and he joined the local cricket team. He was considered quite incompetent with a bat, as he always wanted to play for six and therefore was often getting dismissed for a duck. However his attitude to batting resulted in 36 sixes in his cricket career (almost quarter of his runs in test came from sixes) which is quite an impressive result for a tailsender.

Eventually, Michael found that he was really good at bowling. He came to this revelation in a rather unorthodox way. Holding had a bad habit of running around the field before delivery (a manifestation of the inner torment over his failed long-distance running dreams). In the meantime, the bored batsman would often decide to walk off, kicking the stumps in frustration before doing so. Holding took many wickets using this method during his career.

Professional Career Run-ups

Michael Holding as a fast bowler got his own Holding Company

Before his first delivery in his first over, Michael Holding would usually absent from the match. When it was his turn to bowl he could be seen running from the locker-room, finishing a marathon that formed part of his warm-up. It would be expected that the delivery following this run-up has an extreme momentum. Contrastingly, he would be highly exhausted after the marathon and therefore be running very very slowly. Batsman and supporters would then become irritated with this unnecessary lengthening of the match. Only the umpires would not protest, as they always have nerves of steel and tremendous amounts of patience. This is essential for any cricket umpire.

His favourite run-up tactic was running from the boundary to the pitch. An interesting fact is that Michael Holding was never late for his first ball. The finish of his marathon-warm-up would always be perfectly timed with his first ball in an innings. But when he had to bat in the first innings, he usually refused and started his marathon-run-up long before the innings (yes, he was running during the first batting innings).

Holding v. Boycott and anti-drugs campaign

From an uncountable amount of overs played in the entire history of test matches... Oh wait, I think some statisticians actually ARE able to answer roughly how many of them were played... Anyway, one over in which Holding bowled against Geoffrey Boycott was chosen as the greatest over in history. It was an odd decision as there were many better overs, such as the one in which Yuvraj Singh scored six sixes, or the one where Scott Boswell bowled 14 balls instead of a typical six was arguably much more exciting.

But many people preferred the over against Boycott, as Holding simply ruined the famous Englishman. He started from an anaemic throw to Boycott who needed to spin around to strike the incoming ball (he expected a much faster delivery). Some speculated this was a clever tactic that would catch Boycott off guard, but in fact Holding was just extremely tired of running, hence the slower ball. The coach asked him to take some drugs to boost his energy, but Holding refused as he wished to remain clean like a small minority of athletes do. That decision gave him power to bowl, and his deliveries gradually started to increase in pace, with the final ball seeing Boycott clean bowled, who then swore at the Windies and proudly walk off.

However, some people say that it is just an urban legend made up by anti-drugs policy makers to persuade young Jamaicans to give up drugs. Unfortunately, it was not too successful, as most Jamaicans care only about Usain Bolt. Compared to Bolt, cricket is so cliche for a rasta.

Reception of waiting for Holding's delivery from first person perspective

Sometimes if Michael Holding was not able to dismiss batsman in the legal way, he would decide to solve the problem by dislodging bails from the stumps personally. The Umpire would then wake up from his nap and send the batsman out.

Peter Willey once had a round of batting against Holding. It started a long relationship between both.

Peter Willey: "OK... I can hardly see him... He's so far away... Oh yeah! He's running towards me. OK..."


Peter Willey: "He's coming closer and closer... Nearly there... Oh my legs... It hurts from staying in one place in such an unconfortable position and not moving for such a long period of time..."


Peter Willey: "Oh, fuck off Holding! You're doing it intentionally! Nobody runs that slowly! Fuck you!"

Derryck Murray (Windie wicket-keeper): "You're gonna get fucking bowled, you faggot!"

Peter Willey: (turning his head towards keeper) "What? Ah! My neck!!! Too fast! Uh... What did you say?"

Sound of leather ball hitting wooden stumps.


Peter Willey: "Come on... That's just ridiculous... I didn't even hear the incoming ball."

However in this case it was a no-ball because the umpire stated that the delivery was too fast and that he couldn't see the ball. Therefore Willey did not get dissmissed.

Holding his willy

The bowler is Holding the Batsman's Willey there are ball flying all over the place and white stuff all over their faces” ~ 'Rarely quoted full length version of above quote which was actually by Brian Johnson and took and occurred during a long hot summer in characterised by an excess of aggressive bowling and the application of copious suncream on Michael Holding

Fuck off! I didn't even touch his penis!”

~ Michael Holding on holding bowler's willy

In the next innings, Holding was batting against Willey. Famous commentator Brian Johnston accused Holding and Willey of homosexuality, indicating that the batsman's (Holding) holding bowler's willy. However, the incident was not caught on camera and both players denied allegations, although they were later known to be very close friends.

See also