England are ‘scared’ of producing pace bowlers – Michael Holding
West Indies legend Michael Holding says England are scared of producing pace bowlers and that their lack of them was the problem in the Ashes defeat.
England lost the recent series 4-0 against Australia.
Holding says English pace bowlers are “not encouraged to go fast” and that economy rates are favoured over pace.
“If you’re taking wickets, that’s the important factor,” said Holding. “But I have seen over the last 10 years or so, England don’t seem to think that way.”
In the Ashes, Australia’s Mitchell Starc averaged 89.1mph, just ahead of team-mates Josh Hazelwood (88.8mph) and Pat Cummins (88.1mph), with Chris Woakes the fastest of the England bowlers at an average of 85.6mph.
Asked whether England are scared of producing pace bowlers, Holding told the BBC’s Stumped show: “Yes, definitely.
“That was the problem with England in the Ashes, they didn’t have anyone with real pace,” added former fast bowler Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests.
“England need people that can bowl 90mph and stay fit. England have found them in the past and there’s no reason why they can’t find them in the future.”
‘Economy rate doesn’t matter’
Holding cited Steven Finn as an example of an England bowler who has had his pace coached out of him.
The 28-year-old was part of the England squad that flew out to Australia for the Ashes but returned home just nine days later with a knee injury.
Finn, who has taken 125 wickets in 36 Tests, has not played a Test for England since October 2016.
“Fast bowlers in England are not encouraged to go fast, because when you are fast you are more liable to leak a few more runs per over than someone who is bowling medium pace and showing great control,” said Holding.
“I heard so much about Steven Finn that he was going at four runs per over, and that was too many. But he was taking wickets. At one point, he was taking more wickets than the big names.
“The economy rate does not matter, it’s what’s in the fourth column, the ‘W’, that matters.”
Finn told BBC Sport his pace can drop, but said it is a result of a demanding schedule.
“The amount of teams and the amount of cricket we have doesn’t particularly help fast bowlers being 100% fit to bowl fast all the time,” he said.
“It takes an understanding from players and coaches to know that it’s not possible to bowl 90mph every day for a whole county season, and I think that’s how young people who do bowl fast could potentially lose their pace.
“In the past I’ve played a whole summer and a whole year, and your pace does drop – I’ve been a victim of that.
“It’s my responsibility to understand when my body is at 100% and when its not.”