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AFP
June 14, 2019

Cricket chiefs deny World Cup TV ‘gagging’ order

Sports

AFP
June 14, 2019

NOTTINGHAM: International cricket chiefs say they do not want to gag commentators after West Indies great Michael Holding hit out at “censorship” following on-air comments that were critical of the standard of umpiring at the World Cup.

The former pace bowler, a high-profile TV analyst, labelled the officiating in the match between West Indies and Australia at Trent Bridge on June 6, as “atrocious”. Holding criticised umpires Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Chris Gaffaney in the group game in Nottingham for caving in to pressure created by constant appealing by the Australians, who won the match by 15 runs.

Chris Gayle was out to what should technically have been a free hit after Mitchell Starc overstepped the crease on the previous ball, which was not spotted by the umpire. West Indies skipper Jason Holder was also at the receiving end of an umpiring blunder after being adjudged lbw off Adam Zampa but replays suggested the ball had pitched outside leg stump. The decision was overturned on review.

According to the Times of India, Huw Bevan, the production head for the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) rights partner Sunset and Vine, wrote an email to Holding on June 7. “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,” he said.

But Holding wrote a strong reply to the ICC, the Times of India reported. “Commentators are being more and more compromised by controlling organisations to the point of censorship,” he said. “If those umpires yesterday were FIFA officials, they would have been told to pack their bags and head home,” he added.

“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? I am sorry, but I am not going to be part of that,” he said.

“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.” But an ICC spokesman told AFP the matter was now closed.

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