Friday, 23 December 2011

'I thought I'd been shot': facing Michael Holding

I've been working on something kind of inspired by this blog, that hopefully will at some point see the light of day via this blog. The opening part of it concerns the late Bob Woolmer, who did the first amazing thing I ever saw on a cricket field.

I'll save that, but in writing about it, I found this. It's Woolmer's own description of his dismissal by Michael Holding at the Oval in 1976. It came on the third morning of the match and the day after his amazing thing:

'Holding's feet barely touched the ground as he ran in. He moved in silkily, and his body swayed like a cobra's: it would have been magnificent if I'd been watching it from the outside. But here I was more intent on watching the ball, moving back and across as Colin Cowdrey had taught me.

'Holding was bowling with only one fielder in front of the wicket at cover point. He bowled, and I moved back and across. I saw that the ball was pitched up, so I moved forward, feet first and then into the shot.

'Before I knew it, the ball had smashed into my pad. Even though I was wearing state-of-the-art buckskin pads, the pain was so incredible I thought I'd been shot. A small explosion of whitening emanated from my pad and a loud appeal from the bowler and fielders. Dickie Bird was not known to give too many lbws. But this time he had no choice: the ball would have broken middle stump'.

Bob Woolmer wrote this 23 years after the Oval match. Some things stick in the memory. Facing Michael Holding in 1976 is evidently one of them.

7 comments:

Brian Carpenter said...

Sorry to be a pedant, OB, but he can't have written that 33 years after the event as he was dead by then.

Two things obviously stuck in his mind: the pain involved, and the fact that Dickie gave it out.

The Old Batsman said...

Cheers Brian - it should have been 23. Have corrected, and apologies.

diogenes said...

that must have been the innings when Amiss got his amazing double-century. two thoughts, Woolmer would mhave been close to his peak then but must have been jaded after the onslaught all series from the WIndies, whilst Amiss was fresh. But just how did Amiss manage to score so many runs even after making a very exaggerated "back and across" trigger movement?

John Halliwell said...

It was that match, Diogenes. Amiss batted with his re-modelled, crab-like stance - possibly as ugly as anything ever seen at the Oval, but effective beyond all expectation. Memory loses its edge over decades but didn't that front-facing, two-eyed stance give Amiss a split-second longer to pick up Holding's line and length? Perhaps if Bob Woolmer had tried it, he might have avoided that thunderbolt - but then again, probably not, such was Holding's pace through the air and the consistent fullness of delivery.

I now look forward to eventual publication of the OB's thoughts inspired by this match

diogenes said...

interesting to see that David Steele - classical side-on - got 44, Knott - sui generis - made 50, Willey - similarly chest-on to Amiss - got 33 and Miller - classical - got 36. The disparity between Amiss the top-scorer and second-best Knott is amazing for an innings of 435 runs. Steele and Knott did the bulk of the scoring in the second innings - Amiss must have been mentally shot. Looking at the WIndies first innings, what surprises me are the bowling analyses. Underwood had to bowl 60 overs! Willis and Selvey managed 15 each. Greig did 34 overs at a reasonable economy rate considering the carnage. Underwood and Greig went for under 3 runs per over whilst Selvey and Willis both went for over 4. I wonder if the insight will be tht there were times when Willis's run-up was faster and more aggressive than his actual bowling!

Free bets said...

I would not have fancied facing a ball from Michael Holding as he had one of the longest run ups i have ever seen and he was very very quick!!!

Pay per head said...

this is so weird because once I also thought I had been shot, but when I realized, it was a friend's practical joke,, he shot me with a paint ball gun after that, I wanted to shoot him instead haha