Bengaluru, June 13: During his playing days, he was known as "Whispering Death" because of his smooth bowling action that had produced deadly deliveries.
But Michael Holding, now 65, is no more a whispering man now. The former West Indies fast bowler is known for his straight-forward comments, that of late, he has found himself at odds with the International Cricket Council (ICC) over presenting strong views on the umpiring standards in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
The matter came to the fore after the governing body had asked Holding, one of the members of its commentary panel, not to react sharply to umpiring blunders as he had done during the Australia-West Indies game at Trent Bridge on June 6.
The Caribbeans were at the receiving end of some awful umpiring decisions and lost the match by 15 runs. Opener Chris Gayle was given leg before in a delivery which should have been a free-hit since the previous ball bowled by Mitchell Starc was a huge no ball.
Holding was reportedly contacted via email by the ICC and asked to refrain from criticising the umpires - Chris Gaffaney and Ruchira Palliyaguruge - on that occasion.
Holding was not someone to take a step back. In his reply, he refused to abide by the ICC's suggestions and said he would rather prefer to head home instead of paying heed to the international body's words. He also drew an analogy with the football's global governing body (FIFA) saying had the erring umpires been officials of FIFA, they would have been asked to go home.
He said as a former servant of the game, he felt that cricket should be held to a high standard and questioned whether the objective is to protect umpires even when they make silly. The two sides later had settled the issue, it was reported.
This is not the first time that Holding has taken on an administrative body though. In 2007, months after the West Indies organised their first World Cup, Holding had lashed out at the West Indies Cricket Board (now Cricket West Indies) accusing it of not doing enough to develop the kind of infrastructure required to grow quality cricketers fit to play internationally. Later, around 2015, the West Indies cricket authorities had come under criticism for trying to gag commentators from criticising their team over cricketing affairs.
Holding certainly is right in expressing his express opinions over the poor standard of umpiring in as big (the biggest in fact) a tournament as the World Cup. The world body, instead of asking the commentators, who have had established their names in the game with years of hard work, to fall in line, needs to take care of the urgent work like fixing the umpires.