Michael Holding voted Derbyshire's best ever overseas player

Some of the top players in the world have featured for Derbyshire down the years but one stood out when supporters were asked to name the county's best-ever overseas signing.

Friday, 29th May 2020, 11:29 am
Updated Friday, 29th May 2020, 6:30 pm
Michael Holding has been voted Derbyshire's best ever overseas player. (Photo by Adrian Murrell/Getty Images)

A BBC poll invited followers of all the first-class counties to choose the player they regarded as their club's finest import.

Derbyshire fans went for the great West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding who got 51% of the vote ahead of the South Africans Eddie Barlow and Peter Kirsten and the New Zealand batsman John Wright.

Holding was outstanding for the county in the 1980s, taking 224 first-class wickets in 66 matches as well as 154 in limited-overs games.

The Jamaican was captained at Derbyshire by Kim Barnett who described him as "the ultimate" player during his time at the Incora County Ground.

"I'm a massive Eddie Barlow fan, not only for what he did for Derbyshire but what he did for me when I went over the South Africa," Barnett said.

"But in terms of the influence he had both on and off the field, because of those two things, I don't think you could argue that Michael was the best we had.

"Derbyshire have had many fine players but it was that ability to win matches and bowl against the very best. He always took responsibility, always bowled at the tough times and then encouraged the younger bowlers to come on when the game was perhaps in an easier state.

"He was very generous like that and it was great for me as captain, to know that when the opposition wanted X amount of runs to win a match you had Michael at one end.

"I remember conversations with him talking about what field he wanted at the death and I would suggest having mid-off up and he would say, 'they're definitely not going to hit me over mid-off!'

"To know you had someone you could rely on was brilliant. He would often put his hand up as if to say you need me to bowl now and it was always when the game was at its toughest and we needed a wicket."

Holding produced many memorable performances for Derbyshire but Barnett singled out two, both in 60 overs games, as examples of his skill and character.

"There are a couple of things that stand out in my mind, one was the Sussex game at Hove,” he said.

“We could hardly get a wicket at the other end, the ball wasn't really moving and he got eight for 21. It was just ridiculous that someone could bowl like that and yet it looked so innocuous at the other end.

"The pitch was flat and we knocked them off easily. Yet when I said to him that was fantastic Michael, you can't have bowled much better than that, he said he didn't think they'd played particularly well which shows what a modest extraordinary guy he is.

"The other one was when he was injured and we had a match against Surrey. He said to me 'you need me to play, don't you?' and I said but you can't walk, Michael. He said if you let me stand at slip for the whole innings I'll bowl you 12 overs on the trot in the middle which he did. He just walked to the wicket and got one for 20 odd.

"As much as Peter Kirsten and John Wright were great players, our ability to bowl teams out twice was changed in that era with Michael. He was the catalyst it was built around. He was the ultimate for us."

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