Cricket legend at centre of weird commentary controversy

Tanya Simon
June 13, 2019

Nottingham, United Kingdom: 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. Their only loss to date came against Pakistan, whom West Indies beat in their World Cup opener.

These included Chris Gayle receiving two reprieves while being given out three times in the space of nine balls - the last of which followed a huge front foot no-ball by the Mitchell Starc the previous delivery that was missed by the umpire Chris Gaffney - and Jason Holder being adjudged lbw to a ball that pitched outside leg stump, albeit saved on review.

"The umpiring in this game has been atrocious", Holding said on live TV.

"I am sorry, but I am not going to be part of that". They are being intimidated - that means they are weak'. "The two reasons for the delay were firstly, the wet pitch and secondly, something that the viewers on screen can't see is how dark the ground is, the match can't begin in such a dark setting".

The Times of India reported that the ICC subsequently sent a memo out to all commentators.

The ICC in an e-mail to Holding and his colleagues reminded them of "the importance of maintaining the highest standards and uphold the game's best values and spirit while covering the tournament" earlier this week.

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He further added that ICC TV's duty is to "not to cast doubt or negative judgement on anything associated with the tournament in our coverage". This is exactly the kind of thing we need to avoid putting on air.

"We have only requested them to be fair in their comment. We should also be very careful not to look to create controversy around an event or match at any time".

The memo led a number of cricket fans to point out Australia's ball-tampering saga, sparked by eagle-eyed South African cameramen, may have been glossed over under ICC rules.

Holding was among several commentators to receive an email from Huw Bevan, the head of cricket at production company Sunset & Vine, urging them not to "amplify mistakes by giving airtime to those incidents".

India's fielders have been razor-sharp in their opening World Cup games but fielding coach R Sridhar said on Thursday that they can not afford a drop in their intensity against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday.

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