Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Michael Holding and the Power of the 'Wuw'. Over the years, Michael Holding displayed every side of his personality without ever holding back.
Over the years, Michael Holding displayed every side of his personality without ever holding back.
“WUW“. He wouldn’t use it very often during a day’s play. And there really was no need to say anything more when he did. For, every time Michael Holding exclaimed “Wuw“, you knew something major had transpired. Something that had impressed him. Something that demanded your attention.
The last few days have been filled with multiple odes to the cricketing legend turned legendary commentator. They’ve highlighted the innumerable contributions he made as cricket’s conscience in and out of the commentary box. They’ve come from all quarters and all corners of the cricket world. And deservedly so, considering the wide-ranging issues that he tackled unconditionally on and off the field. But perhaps lost in all the plaudits was Michael Holding’s power to say so much with just a single syllable for over three decades. The power of the Wuw.
Cricket has had many notable voices and will continue to do so. Not many will argue though that with Holding’s retirement, cricket has probably lost its voice of reason. But for someone who is considered to have been the most outspoken broadcaster on a variety of important issues, from race to corruption and everything in between, the former fast bowling great was also the ultimate practitioner of the “less is more” approach to commentary. Nothing encapsulated it like his Wuw.
The beauty of Holding’s Wuw was that it sounded equally genuine and consequential regardless of whether it was induced by a batsman, bowler or even a fielder. And every single time he went Wuw, it demanded a pregnant pause not just from his colleagues in the commentary box but from everyone watching. To the extent that neither he nor his co-commentators were required to even say much about the replay of the shot, the ball, or the catch. It carried through even into the current era of cricket commentary, where we’ve become immune to hearing hyperboles and pregnant proses emanating from most broadcast boxes.
The Wuwwas discovered very early on in Holding’s commentary career. One early instance comes from the 1991-92 Australian summer when Carl Hooper – who later in life Holding would refuse to acknowledge as West Indies captain produced one of his customarily languid strokes through the off-side against Australia. It was so powerful that even the usually excitable Tony Greig didn’t feel the need to add much.
And it’s not only in recent years that he’s been providing us with life lessons. Turns out, he’s always done it. During that same Benson & Hedges World Series competition in 1991-92, you can hear him describe cricket’s much-publicised quality of being a great leveller with these words. “Cricket is life-like. One day you’re hot and the next day you’re not.” It was when Geoff Marsh dropped a relatively straightforward catch in the slips a couple of days after he’d pulled off an acrobatic grab in the same position.
It’s safe to say that Holding’s Wuw added as much gravitas as the late great Richie Benaud’s very popular trademark, “Marvellloush“. Even if it doesn’t get talked about as much. It elevated the moment into a happening. It told you everything you needed to know. It might be lost in the vast expanse of Holding’s gems over the years on the mic. But if you ever wanted to know how much a colour commentator can add to an event on the field without saying much, go and listen to Holding and Benaud together in the box describing Mohammed Azharuddin’s catch to dismiss Shivnarine Chanderpaul during the India v West Indies 1996 World Cup encounter. It is, to quote him, quite Wuw.
Perhaps the broadcasters who did have the privilege of having Michael Holding on call over the years missed a trick by not introducing a “Mikey’s WUW moments of the day” segment. We wouldn’t have needed the elaborate highlights packages after all.
A few years ago, Channel 9ran a tribute to that other former great turned incredible commentator which ended with the line, “Nothing happens at the MCG till Bill Lawry says so”. Let’s also agree that nothing really significant happened on any cricket field unless Michael Holding went “Wuw“.
The last Wuw heard on TV came during the recent Oval Test between England and India. Little did we know then that it was to actually be the final time. It came after Shardul Thakur had leaned on his back foot and thumped a length delivery from Chris Woakes through the cover-point region. Like always, his partner didn’t need to add a word.
Over the 33 or so years that he blessed the cricket commentary box, Michael Holding displayed every side of his personality without ever holding back. He was brave enough to show emotion and vulnerability, even at times when he wasn’t directly involved in an incident. He also never shied away from showing off his unique sense of humour, right till the very end. Whether it was him going “Rooooooooot” and echoing the Headingley crowd’s welcome to Joe Root or even talking about the curve of the banana to describe the level of swing that the English fast bowlers had been deriving at Leeds. There were also plenty of Wuw’swhich for many might have been swept away amidst the sea of memorable lines and moments he provided on air. But for some, Holding’s extraordinary stint behind the mic will be remembered through the thousands of Wuw’sover the years.
Cricket on TV will never be the same again without Holding’s voice in the background. It’ll be like watching The Shawshank Redemption without Morgan Freeman providing the voiceover.
And maybe there’s only one word that’ll do justice in summing up Michael Holding’s legacy in the commentary box. His own. “WUW”.