West Indies had just about started their first year of dominance of test cricket of 2 decades in 1976 and were leading England 2-0 when the teams locked horns for the final test at the Oval on the flattest of pitches under baking sun.
It was absolute run fest at least for 1st 4 days of the test . West Indies amassed 687 led by a massive 291 by Viv Richards supported by a collection of 50 pluses from Rowe, Lloyd, King and others . In reply Dennis Ammis scored a resilient 203 as England piled on 435 but were still 252 runs behind. At one stage, the hosts were 279/3 but Michael Holding stepped up his pace and went about rattling the middle and lower order with sustained spells of extremely quick fast bowling with fast and straight deliveries which became increasingly tougher for the Englishmen to handle. A mixture of hostile short deliveries followed by rapidly full yorkers screwed the hell out of English batters as stumps were repeatedly sent flying finally restricting England to 435. Holding took 8 /92 in the fast innings for his efforts. Lloyd however did not enforce follow on in the warm weather and batted for 32 overs in which both openers rattled up 182 for no loss scoring 80s apiece. With 435 to win ,Holding was unleashed again and England were simply outclassed by brutal pace as stumps started flying. It was a fierce but a beautiful exhibition of fast bowling with that smooth as silk runup to the wicket, then uncoiling himself at the delivery stride to unleash his lethal deliveries. Tony Greig , the England captain, who commented before the series to make Windies grovel, was made himself to grovel as Holding sent his stumps flying in both knocks with booming yorkers. Holding finished with 6/57 in 2nd innings and got 14 wickets in the match as Windies won the test by 231 runs after skittling out England for 203 in 2nd innings.
For enjoying glimpses of Holding’s fast bowling at Oval please click on the below YouTube video link :