Michael Holding: Whispering Death
The summer of 1977 in New York City was sweltering. There was disco fever and the Son of Sam
murders, as well as the blackout
: all of which summarized the malaise of a city and a nation at sea on its bicentennial. In Britain, while 1977 was the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee and the year the Sex Pistols released "God Save the Queen"
and punk was shocking
the nation, it was the summer of 1976, during which there was a drought
and the West Indian cricket team visited, that provided a wake-up call for the Brits.
, England's South-African born captain, had famously announced that he was going to make the West Indians "grovel." Coming from a white man, and a white South African at that, this insult riled not only people in the Caribbean, but Afro-Carribeans in the U.K. They were going to show their white former masters that black people were good for something, and could no longer be treated like slaves.
And how good and masterful they were! The West Indies thrashed the English, mainly through the extraordinary, insouciant brilliance of the great Vivian Richards
and "whispering death" himself, Michael Holding, whose beautiful, athletic bowling destroyed English cricket at the Oval
. That same year, there were race riots at the Notting Hill carnival
, and Britain finally began to wake up to the fact that race was not just an American problem.
This was the beginning of West Indian cricket domination. Unfortunately, in 2007, the team that played England was beaten 3-0: a sad shadow of their former selves. Their main destroyers were Kevin Pietersen
, a white South-African born batsman, who came to England in protest at the race quota system imposed by South African cricket, and Monty Panesar
, a British-born Sikh. Some things change and some things don't.