Former Jamaica and West Indies Test fast bowler Michael Anthony “Whispering Death” Holding was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of Atlantis Cricket Club – NY at the club’s 50th Anniversary Gala Awards Presentation & Dinner last Saturday, at Glen Terrace Ballroom in Brooklyn, New York,.
The Eastern American Cricket Association (EACA) 2016 40-Overs Division 1 championship club started celebrating its 50th anniversary earlier this year with a Church Service at St. Gabriel’s Episcopalian Church in Brooklyn, followed by an annual “Breakfast of Champions” event, and a “Gaffin Cricket with Reds Perreira” get together, in conjunction with the Indo-Caribbean Federation, at the Royal Empress Banquet Hall in Queens, NY. However, it was the New York based club’s 50th Anniversary Gala that attracted a full house with dinner guests decked out in formal attire, at the popular Glen Terrace Ballroom.
As is customary, Atlantis uses its annual awards presentation dinner event to honor its players who had outstanding performances on the field of play during the year, but to also recognize the contributions of former Test players, by bestowing Honorary Lifetime Membership upon those selected and invited to the black-tie affair. The club also honors in similar fashion, some of its own members who have contributed to the success of the club over the years.
This year’s International Cricket Honoree is Michael Anthony Holding, known for his fiery pace delivered with stealth-like speed, and resulting in the 6’ 3” Test player capturing 249 Test wickets during his cricket career, and the epic era of West Indies cricket in the 70s and 80s. The outright, but soft-spoken athlete who intimidated opposing players with his lethal pace bowling spells, delivered an anecdotal presentation to the 300 plus dinner guests, that recaptured his introduction to the sport of cricket at a very tender age. In fact, according to Mikey as he’s affectionately called, “As soon as my father learned that my mother had given birth to me – a baby boy, he registered me as a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club in Jamaica. So one can say I was born into cricket.”
The author of two autobiographies “Whispering Death” and “No Holding Back,” Mikey Holding talked about the things and people who influenced his cricket career, and by extension, his life. It was noteworthy that he referred to former Guyana and West Indies Test captain as someone who took him under his wing, and was pivotal in helping to shape his career in cricket. Clive Lloyd, who was also in attendance at the dinner, is an Honorary Lifetime Member of Atlantis. Mikey Holding said that in his younger years as a West Indies Test cricketer, many referred to Clive Lloyd as Mikey Holding’s father, and he jokingly remarked that on many occasions when Clive Lloyd telephoned his home, his real father Ralph Holding, would summon him to the phone, by saying “Mikey, it’s your father calling.”
Holding also cited his involvement in the 1978 Kerry Packer World Series as the defining moment of his truly professional approach to the sport, noting that playing cricket at the highest levels does not equate to professionalism. He also noted the influence of Dennis Waight, an Australian fitness trainer, as transformational for him and the entire West Indies team. Waight was introduced to the West Indies team by Kerry Packer during that series of matches, and Holding said the introduction of a trainer was a first for the West Indies, and it was the catalyst for the squad’s success throughout the 80s, and its continued fitness.
By many accounts, the now 62 year-old legendary fast bowler was a hit as the featured honoree and speaker at the Atlantis dinner. Some ladies in attendance, particularly noted his eloquence in describing his sojourn into the world of Test cricket, and his effusive praise of his former skipper Clive Hubert Lloyd, who appeared attentive to every word uttered by his former protégé.
This year’s Atlantis International Cricket Honoree Mikey Holding drew several parallels between his Jamaican cricket club Melbourne and Atlantis, with regard to the services extended by both clubs to the communities within which they reside, particularly with helping young cricketers and the awarding of academic scholarships, as well as the support of women’s cricket. This year, Atlantis awarded three financial scholarships from its Shevonne Mentis Educational Scholarship Fund. Randall Wilson, this year’s Most Promising Player was also awarded an academic scholarship worth $1,000.00
Michael Anthony Holding is often credited as bowling the greatest six-ball over in a Test match, with reference to his six deliveries to England’s Geoff Boycott in a 1981 Test Series match in Barbados. With increasing pace on each of the first five deliveries and Boycott ducking away, Holding then clean bowled the Englishman with the sixth delivery. Although known for his fiery pace, Michael holding could hold his own with the bat as well. He is ranked at 32 on the all-time list of Test players with less than 1,000 Test runs, and has cleared the boundary ropes on 36 occasions, with almost 25% of his Test runs resulting from sixes.
Mikey Holding joins a distinguished list of former Test players, as members of Atlantis’ Honorary Membership roster, including Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs, Joe Solomon, Basil Butcher, Lawrence Rowe, Gus Logie, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Curtly Ambrose, Alvin Kallicharran, Joel Garner, Roger Harper, Clayton Lambert, Adam Sanford and Stephanie Power.
This year’s list of Atlantis’ local honorees included former club presidents Keith Holder, John Aaron and Steve Welcome. The trio has a combined period of almost four decades of service to the club in various capacities, including the presidency.
2016 Outstanding Atlantis Performance Awards
Most Valuable Player – Greg Robinson
Most Promising Player – Randall Wilson
Highest Batting Aggregate 40-overs – Randall Wilson – 311 Runs
Best Batting Average 40-overs – Wahid Ward – 43.7 Runs per inning
Highest Score in a Single Match 40-overs – Wahid Ward – 106 n.o.
Most Wickets 40-overs – Greg Robinson – 26 Wickets
Best Bowling Average 40-overs – Prashanth Nair – 10.7 Runs per wicket
Best Bowling Performance in a Single Match 40-overs – Prashanth Nair 7-0-26-7
Five or more Wickets in a Single Match 40-overs – Prashanth Nair 7/26, Greg Robinson 6/33, Keon Lake 6/44
Most Economical Bowling Performance in a Single Match 40-overs – Dillon Bourne 8-2-15-4
Most Economical Bowling Performance 40-overs – Alex Amsterdam 3.30 Runs per wicket
Most Catches for the Season 40-overs – Garfield DeRoche – 16
2016 Centurion’s Club 40-overs – Wahid Ward – 106 n.o.
Highest Batting Aggregate T20 – Wahid Ward – 143 Runs
Best Batting Average T20 – Wahid Ward – 35.7 Runs per inning
Most Wickets T20 – Greg Robinson – 10 Wickets
Best Bowling Performance in a Single Match T20 – Greg Robinson 4-0-25-5
Five or more Wickets in a Single Match T20 – Greg Robinson 5/25
Most Catches T20 – Dwayne Smith, 6 – Randall Wilson, 6
Best Cricket Player Spirit 2016 Season – Henderson Blades
Most Disciplined Player 2016 Season – Dillon Bourne
The dinner was the crowning event of the club’s 50th anniversary celebrations and a fitting finale to its 2016 season as EACA 40-overs champions.