In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Holding identifies many of the same problems surfacing in South Africa.
‘West Indies lost a lot of their great players in the early to mid-1990s period. South Africa is in a similar situation,’ Holding said. For Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, Desmond Haynes and Jeff Dujon then, read Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher.
‘West Indies had no forward planning, no succession plan, and I’m not too sure they [South Africa] do,’ he added. ‘What I’m seeing with this South Africa team, it seems as though they’re doing a lot of patchwork. Having an opener [Stiaan van Zyl] who is not really an opener – instead of saying OK, we have to plan for down the road. If you want to rebuild a team you can’t do patchwork.’
And to develop players, says Holding, you need a natural and realistic progression.
Progression depends on sensible administration and plenty of investment, he said: ‘You’ve got to have a lot of A tours, as England does – have two teams on tour, the Test team and an A team in the same country, so there’s some overlapping and people are learning from each other. It mustn’t be a culture shock when you step into the Test arena.’
Another added concern for South Africa (which did not affect West Indies) is the number of T20 series available.
‘What I think is going to affect South Africa, is the T20 cricket you have around the world. There are so many whispers about AB de Villiers retiring – and Dale Steyn too. When you see a fast bowler retire a year or two before he’s totally done, that’s not really a serious problem. But when a batsman retires five or six years before, that is a bigger problem, and I think that’s going to affect this team.
‘You heard AB de Villiers talking about the workload. There’s plenty more cricket being played today than in years gone by, but you know he’s not going to give up the IPL. So it’s going to be the South African Test team that will suffer in that regard.
All is not lost, says Holding, as he praised the strength of schools cricket in South Africa, which encourages promising young players like Temba Bavuma, and sees the basis of a structure, something the West Indies never had.
Similarly, South Africa still has sound sponsorships. ‘Castle and Sunfoil are ready to put money in the sport. We have never had a West Indian company putting money into cricket. They [South Africa] should never get to the stage where we are now, but there’s a chance of it slipping to an unacceptable level.
‘You’ve got to have money to keep your people playing domestic cricket. The countries that have money and can afford to pay their cricketers, and convince them to stay back and help the development of their cricket, will always be well ahead of those countries that don’t.’
Finally, a word of warning to the ICC: ‘I’d love to see Shashank Manohar (the new chairman of the ICC] change the existing arrangement of the three countries [Australia, England and India] raping the cricket system. Without funding, the lesser countries will keep on getting more and more insignificant.’