Greenidge was recently honored with a knighthood in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year list for his “services to cricket and the development of sport” and Holding, who played alongside the opening batsman, said there was never any doubt about the Barbadian’s immense status.
“Gordon was a great player,” Holding said in tribute to Greenidge during an interview on the cricket radio show Mason and Guest.
“He had one bad tour that I can remember and that was the first time he went to Australia in 1975-76 when he wasn’t the only one, but since then he just blossomed and became a great player.
“If it hadn’t been for Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, everyone would’ve been talking about Gordon Greenidge.”
Greenidge, considered one of the finest technicians of the game, gathered 7,558 runs at an average of 44 with 19 centuries in Test cricket. He struck a century in either inning of the 1976 Old Trafford Test, lashed two double hundreds on the 1984 tour of England, and was a member of the West Indies side which won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979.
Sir Viv, widely considered the most dominant batsmen of his era, amassed 8,540 runs with 24 hundreds at an average of 50. His career-best 291 at the Oval in 1976 was one of two double hundreds on a tour when he thrice reached triple figures in a record aggregate of 829 runs. An imperious 138 in the 1979 World Cup final at Lord’s handed West Indies an historic second straight title.
Holding said of all the great innings by Greenidge, the one performance which had remained with him was the 226 at Kensington Oval in Barbados in 1991, when on the cusp of his 40th birthday, he carved out a defiant double hundred against Australia.
“I can remember one (inning) when he really applied himself greatly in Barbados when people were saying he had gone past his prime and he made a (double century) in that Test match,” Holding recalled.
“Gordon has played so many great innings and of course with his opening partner Dessie Haynes, they built so many foundations for West Indies in the past.”
Holding, now a well-respected international television cricket broadcaster, also praised legendary former captain Clive Lloyd who also received a knighthood for his “services to cricket”.
“He was captain for almost all of my Test matches,” Holding explained. “I played perhaps one or two series after Lloydy retired so he was my captain for most of my career and I looked upon him pretty much as a father figure and I think most people thought of him as my cricketing father.
“I remember once when I was still a youngster, he called my house in Jamaica … and my father answered the phone and shouted to me ‘Mikey, your father’s on the line’.”
The Jamaican added: “Clive Lloyd was a great leader. When you look at the team that Clive Lloyd had, everybody would say ‘oh, he had so much talent’. He’s not the only one that has had talented cricketers under him, but he knew exactly how to get the best out of his players.
“He was a father figure to most of the players, people looked up to him, he respected the players, the players respected him and so that’s why we had so much of a great team.”