Shanghai, April 15: West Indian legend Michael Holding has has been impressed with the growth of fast bowling India but rued the decline of the art in world cricket due to an overkill of the game.
"I was very impressed with Indian fast bowlers, especially Mohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami. It was surprising to me. I think what has contributed to India's fast bowling is the changing of the nature of pitches in India. They have now better pitches, bouncy pitches and it is encouraging bowlers and it helped their batsmen to handle bouncers as well," Holding told PTI at the sidelines of the Laureus World Sports Awards, here today.
"Last October I visited India and was pleasantly surprised by the sporting bouncy pitches. I would have begged on my knees for such pitches in 1983," he added.
The man who was known as "Whispering death", said fast bowling is dying because of excessive cricket. "In World Cup any bowler would have disappeared, especially in the last 10 overs with smaller boundaries and bigger bats and fielding restrictions. What is killing fast bowlers is the amount of cricket that is being played. It is difficult to maintain your fitness, speed and skill," he said.
'Disadvantage for teams batting 2nd at World Cup'
Talking about India's performance at the World Cup, Holding said: "I think most teams were at a disadvantage batting second. The amount of runs India were chasing, I said to myself no chance. If India would have batted first then they could have scored 300 plus."
Holding said he was bored and disappointed with the World Cup. "There was too many one-sided games in World Cup. Too many sides batted first and batted out the opposition. Teams batting second were not competitive. I found that aspect of the game boring. Many a times I slept over during the second innings," he said.
"I would love to see a shorter World Cup, which doesn't necessarily mean lesser teams, and more competitive cricket with proper size bats."
'Was offered bowling coach job by Baroda'
Talking about the format of next World Cup, he said: "If ICC has 10 teams then 10 months ahead of the tournament they should have top six teams qualify for the main draw, while the rest four should face a play-off. I don't want the Test playing nations qualifying automatically."
The 61-year-old Holding also revealed that he was offered a short bowling coach stint by two-time India coach Anshuman Gaekwad for Baroda cricket team last year.
"I was asked by Mr. Gaekwad to join as a bowling coach of Baroda for a short time last time. I said I would but then for some reason it didn't work out," Holding said.
"I am ready to coach the bowlers and help out any cricketer across the globe if I can. So I may consider any offer of coaching in future but right now I can't take up that because of my TV commitments."
'Not a fan of revamping Test cricket'
Two-time World Cup champions West Indies have been going downhill for many years with problems erupting both on and off the field.
Asked what could be the way forward, Holding said: "We need to change the attitude of the officials and also improve the infrastructure, concentrate on grassroot. They are trying to pay first class cricketers which is a good sign but then that can't be your primary aim. You can't only pay mediocre cricketers. You have to make sure that they are better cricketers when they reach first class cricket."
Holding was also critical of Twenty20 cricket. "Twenty20 cricket is doing a lot of damage to traditional cricket not only in West Indies but all over the world. It is affecting poor nations as cricketers want to earn money. I think the administration has to have respect for the players. If they had that, what happened in India would not have happened."
Holding also said it is easier to indulge in corruption in Twenty20 cricket than Test cricket. He was also critical of revamping Test cricket. "I have never been a fan of revamping Test cricket. You can't play Test under lights in such conditions. Until they can find a ball which can be sighted very well under lights and also find conditions which doesn't change from day to night, I cannot be a fan."