KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Former West Indies bowler, Michael Holding, says many modern day cricketers are too focussed on money and that "mediocre" players have risen to the top level.
Speaking exclusively to Lords.org before the current West Indies side crashed out spectacularly against Pakistan, Holding admitted he was encouraged by the talented players coming into the side, under the captaincy of former MCC Young Cricketer Darren Sammy.
However, he lamented both the lack of depth in the Caribbean and the change in attitude of the modern cricketers coming into the game from the region.
"There is talent still in the Caribbean. Look at the guys who are playing now; Roach, young Darren Bravo, Andre Russell - there is talent there and you can see that." Holding said.
"But playing for the West Indies obviously doesn’t mean the same now.
"Times have changed a lot and I think the modern day cricketer, particularly in the Caribbean, thinks more about what he is earning rather than what he is representing. You can't always blame them for that.
"There are guys who can perform but at the same time you don’t have the mass of talent getting to the top as we did years ago.
"When that side was successful we had a lot of players on the peripheries not getting into the team who would get into other teams. You don’t have that any more in the Caribbean because you don’t have the numbers playing the game."
"If you don’t have the numbers playing the game you’ll get a bit of mediocrity getting to the top. When you have the numbers playing you only get the crème getting to the top."
Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests for the West Indies, was speaking at Lord’s as part of a promotional campaign for upcoming documentary 'Fire in Babylon' (opens in a new window).
The West Indies dominated cricket during the 1970s and 80s with a side built on fearsome fast bowling and talented, free scoring batsmen.
Their teams were famously inspired by a desire to make a mark on the international stage - particularly against their former colonial masters, England.
Turning back to the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup, Holding believes South Africa are the best equipped side to lift the trophy - as they prepare to take on New Zealand in their quarter-final clash.
Holding admitted that the luck factor of knockout cricket could upset his prediction but highlighted the Proteas’ bowling attack as the best in the tournament.
South Africa should welcome back leg-spin bowling sensation Imran Tahir as he recovers from the fractured thumb he sustained earlier in the competition.
Tahir forms a formidable bowling attack alongside hostile quick bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and off-spinners Robin Petersen and Johan Botha.
Holding backed South Africa, along with India and Australia, from the start and believes Graeme Smith's team have proven themselves the most balanced side in the tournament.
"Before the tournament started - before the first ball was bowled - I thought South Africa, India and Australia would be the three teams most likely to win." said the 57-year-old former West Indies fast bowler.
"South Africa are basically the best all-round team.
"They have Tahir who has come into the team and is bowling very well; they have Steyn and Morkel, Jacques Kallis and Petersen."
South Africa have been accused of ‘choking’ on the big stage in the past, and Holding stopped short of tipping them for outright glory.
He added: "They have the best all-round team. It’s just a case of whether they can hold it together on the day."
Fire In Babylon - The story of how the West Indies triumphed over its colonial masters through the achievements of one of the most gifted teams in sporting history, is released in UK cinemas in 20 May 2011. Visit www.fireinbabylon.com for more information.