Fri, 14 Aug 2020

, almost indisputably one of the world's premier commentators - as popular on his regular South African visits as those to any other destinations by the 66-year-old legend of Caribbean pace bowling.

And it didn't come at the business end of that famously graceful, athletic "Whispering Death" run-up, of course: that opportunity last came for the lean Jamaican at Wellington's Basin Reserve in distant February 1987, the final of his distinguished 60 Tests.

This, instead, was a delivery - unscripted, which only made it better - in oratory to rank for raw honesty and impact with any ever issued, I believe, by a sportsperson.

In a standing conversation on Sky Sports with colleagues Ian Ward and Nasser Hussain, Holding outlined, with increasing sincerity, dignified force and visible emotion, why he was a spirited disciple of the Black Lives Matter movement.

WATCH | Michael Holding, Ebony Rainford-Brent reveal tear-jerking experiences of racism

I don't believe it would be too over the top to suggest it was up there for symbolism in the moment - remember, these are the days of widespread global satellite television viewership, of wi-fi and ever-buzzing social media - to match such flashpoints as black Olympian Jesse Owens earning a quartet of gold medals at the 1936 Games in Hitler's brutally race-obsessed Nazi Germany, or the poignant power salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, protesting injustice and prejudice against African-Americans.

There was not a hint of a mere platitudinal theme from Holding (toward a cause, remember, already quite deeply embedded beneath the sporting spotlight in recent weeks) as the honey-voiced, almost unfailingly affable individual somehow mustered words from deep chambers of his heart.

Holding didn't prescribe, or rant, or judge ... or pontificate, which can often be an unwitting curse of those who, for example, slightly tarnish their best-intended thoughts or Facebook.

He just, well, spoke -- even if the intensity and smouldering conviction was utterly palpable.

And begged of us all, in his appealingly courteous fashion, to listen: that's all.

"We have all been brainwashed, black people and white people, in many ways," he said.

"Education is important ... until we educate the entire human race, this thing (race-related bigotry) will not stop.

"(It) all stems back from years ago, hundreds of years ago ... the dehumanisation of the black race is where it started.

"People will say 'oh, that's a long time ago, get over it' but no ... you do not get over things like that. Society has not gotten over things like that."

It was additionally disarming, thought-provoking, to hear an iconic cricketer barely reference his specific trade, either, as he unburdened himself (an impromptu but unforgettable "open mike", if you like) on issues that had so clearly been troubling him.

One related to the widely-seen video of a white woman in New York's Central Park, Amy Cooper, threatening to summon police after a black man had simply requested she put her dog on a lead.

Any police respondent, Holding said, would "nine times out of ten" have been white, and a just as an inevitable starting point would have been to associate any "guilt" on the dispute with the black person.

Whiteness as the assumed "way" for virtually time eternal, the fast bowler further submitted, was reflected in the imagery of Jesus Christ.

"I'm not a very holy person (slight giggle) but look at the image we were always taught about Jesus: pale skin, blond hair, blue eyes ... it's brainwashing: the image of what perfection supposedly is."

In separate footage during the heavily-interrupted day, Holding spoke of a memory, while growing up in Jamaica, of a hotel/club facility traditionally and virtually exclusively occupied by white expats.

He said a co-Jamaican he knew, who had lived in the same street in the 1960s, once stripped down to his swimming costume and dived into the pool for a short, barrier-busting swim.

"Do you know that they actually drained and then refilled the pool so the white people would then not have to say they'd swum in the same water?"

In a far from hostile counter to BLM dissenters, Holding said it was an irrelevance to content that "white lives matter too".

"Of course white lives matter ... only they always have done."

This was just Holding's impassioned urging, really, for a levelling-up of the playing field in life, and by extension sport.

Delivery of the day?

Holding's was a snorter, the likes of which we won't witness for quality in the remainder of this Test match, even if the sun (more reliably anticipated for the second half of the contest) beats down gloriously to enliven the combatants.

*Follow our chief writer: @RobHouwing ...

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