West Indies fast-bowling great Michael Holding has spoken about the social impact of Caribbean victories in the past, especially in England. But as Holding hailed sport’s ability to bring together people from different communities to strengthen the fabric of society, he acknowledged the need to exercise restraint at a time when the novel Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted global sporting events.
“Sport is very important to the psyche of an individual and a nation. It allows people to fantasise and escape the real rigours of life which is healthy but at the moment that has to be placed on the back-burner. I don’t know of too many sports that are played that encourage social distancing,” Holding told Sportstar.
As a former cricketer and now commentator, Holding’s thoughts never drifted into the realms of infectious diseases. “We sportsmen, or at least I, tend to take things for granted and although I am aware of scares in the past, Ebola, for instance, I never thought such a worldwide emergency would arise, especially with modern science,” he said.
“Fortunately where I am in the Caribbean, we haven’t had the mad rush and panic buying that I’ve seen in other places. I have enough food and disinfectants in the house for the time being and since we’re going nowhere, there is no need for hand sanitisers. We have soap and water which is good enough. If we go anywhere at all, the shops and supermarkets have people at the entrance spraying sanitisers on your hands before entry.”
Holding doesn’t have an indoor pastime as such; he likes being outdoors. “I would not be watching any old match either. I have seen enough cricket to last two lifetimes so don’t need to be watching any of that. And on that same theme, I wouldn’t be interested in being isolated with any cricketer from anywhere in the world right now,” he said.
Holding, however, wouldn’t mind lessons on philanthropy. “If it’s not my family, then it would have to be some great iconic person that I could sit and have enlightening talks with. He is no longer with us but my number one choice would have been Nelson Mandela.”
At the moment, Holding wants sports fans to act responsible and not ignore the guidelines of isolation and social distancing. “This disease needs new bodies to infect for its survival so don’t give it to those bodies. It’s time for the selfishness to end and do what is best for the nation and the world, not what you as an individual would like. This pandemic will come to an end but the time-frame depends on us as individuals, doing what is right.”