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Sports

Web Desk
June 13, 2019

Disgruntled Michael Holding lashes out at ICC over 'commentator censorship'

Sports

Web Desk
Thu, Jun 13, 2019

Former West Indies pacer and famed commentator Michael Holding has lashed out at the International Cricket Council (ICC) for asking him to keep away from highlighting the errors of the umpires officiating the World Cup 2019 matches.

Calling it commentators' censorship, Holding wrote a fuming letter to the ICC in response to a detailed letter from the game's governing body that he received soon after the match between West Indies and Australia on June 6, a game that the Aussies won by 15 runs.

According to Times of India, Huw Bevan, the production head for ICC's rights partner Sunset & Vine Asia, wrote an email to Holding on Friday, June 7.

The email had been written to remind them all about "the importance of maintaining the highest standards and uphold the game's best values and spirit while covering the tournament".

The email adds, "ICC TV's duty is to reflect the values (above) and not to cast doubt or negative judgement on anything associated with the tournament in our coverage".

It also says, "Inherently in live television, there are occasions when on field decisions cause reason for discussion or debate, but as ICC TV host broadcasters, our (Sunset & Vine) duty is not to judge or highlight mistakes".

This letter from ICC came after Holding termed the umpiring in the game between Windies and Australia 'atrocious'.

He added that field umpires in that game, Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Chris Gaffaney, had caved in to the pressure created by prolonged and repeated appeals from the Aussies.

Gayle was ruled out of the game to what technically should have been a free hit after Mitchell Starc landed almost a foot outside the crease while bowling the previous delivery.

Holder was given out leg-before off Adam Zampa whereas replays showed the ball had been pitched outside the leg-stump. Holding was nothing short of scathing on air.

"We had an incident in the (WI vs Aus) match where we highlighted on air during an analysis segment (which Holding denies) that a no-ball should have been called," Bevan wrote to Holding, further adding, "this is exactly the kind of thing we need to avoid putting on air".

Holder did not take this well and wrote back to ICC.

"If those umpires yesterday were FIFA officials, they would have been told to pack their bags and head home. They would not have been given another World Cup game to officiate. As a former cricketer, I think cricket should be held to a higher standard. Is the objective to protect the umpires even when they do a bad job?"

He added: "I am sorry, but I am not going to be part of that. Please let me know if I should be heading back to my home in Newmarket instead of heading to Cardiff because I don't agree with what is being suggested here and happy not being part of it."

When Times of India reached out to Holding to and the ICC, the former commentator said, "It's true that there was a mass email sent out after the West Indies/Australia game and I did see fit to respond. But as far as I am concerned, the matter has been resolved and I have and hopefully everyone has put it behind them. I don't really want to distract from the World Cup that is already suffering from some uncooperative weather".

Meanwhile, ICC sources told the Indian publication that "the matter is considered closed". It remains to be seen whether Holding will continue to be as outspoken.