One of the most feared pacers during his heydays, legendary West Indies bowler Michael Holding also holds sway in the commentary box as well. An integral part of the Sky Sports team, the no-nonsense Jamaican has questioned the exclusion of Pakistan wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed from the current World Test XI selected by the broadcaster through esteemed former cricketers such as Shane Warne, Ramiz Raja and Michael Atherton last month.
In an interview with PakPassion.net, the 62-year old expressed his disapproval regarding the selection of South African skipper AB de Villiers as the wicket-keeper in the dream team whilst endorsing Sarfraz’s credentials behind the stumps.
Holding claimed, “Sarfraz Ahmed, in particular, is a brave cricketer and I have a lot of respect for him and not just for his wicket-keeping but his batting also. I recently saw they were picking a current World XI for Test cricket and Sarfraz's name came up as the wicket-keeper batsman.
“But sadly, without having seen too much of him in the current series and not knowing what he is capable of, they wouldn't have thought too much about him and they would instead have been thinking of someone like AB de Villiers which would be a little unfair.”
The trio of Warne, Ramiz and Atherton were tasked with picking the best of the present-day players and pit them against the crème de la crème of the 90s generation in a fantasy match-up. The current team, led by Indian captain Virat Kohli, included the likes of Alastair Cook, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Yasir Shah among others with De Villiers slotted in as the wicket-keeper batsman.
This morning @skysports asked Athers, Ramiz & myself to pick two world 11's ! 90's/00's & a Current one. This was the consensus after our selection meeting. Thoughts ? Agree / Disagree ? The two unlucky players to miss out in my opinion are Amla & Williamson. This is also a squad, the final 11 would be picked depending on conditions.
Although he is primarily a specialist batsman, the 32-year old has also kept wickets for 45 innings of his Test career and effected 98 dismissals with the gloves. However, Sarfraz plays purely as a wicket-keeper aside from being handy with the bat too. While de Villiers has racked up over 8,000 runs from 106 matches at an average of 50.46, he has scored 1,489 runs from 25 matches at an average of 43.79 in addition to completing 78 dismissals behind the stumps.
‘Pakistan players can look up to Misbah ul Haq’
When asked about the influence of Misbah ul Haq on Pakistan’s rise to the number one Test spot, Holding admitted that the veteran’s tactical nous could be questioned but his leadership and man-management skills were top-notch. The 42-year old from Mianwali managed to impress during the England tour by guiding his team to a remarkable 2-2 draw in the 4-match series.
The iconic fast bowler enthused, “He's (Misbah) a cool character and a calming influence on the team and he doesn't seem to get too excited or lose his cool so easily. I think that's what the players need, someone who they can look up to, who they can respect and someone who will respect the players and treat them well. It seems as if he is that sort of a person.”
”I questioned a lot of tactics in the Test series particularly in the Edgbaston Test match which I think Pakistan should have won but if you have a lot of ticks in different boxes and you are not brilliant in all areas as a captain that should not mean that you have not done a very good job. I think he has done a very good job as Pakistan captain.”