West Indies cricket great Michael Holding believes regulations against racism in sports will remain “just a plaster on the sore” as long as the society does not unite to tackle the menace.
Asked about his views on the worldwide campaign against racism after the killing of African-American George Floyd in the US and numerous athletes taking a stand against it, Holding said racism in sports cannot be stopped by merely having tough rules.
“You will get racism, people will shout things at cricket grounds, football grounds, wherever, you can’t stamp out racism by tackling individual sports, you have to tackle the society,” Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests for West Indies between 1975 and 1987, said in an Instagram chat on Sunday night.
“It is the people from the society who go to these grounds and shout racist slogans or racist abuse at people. You have to tackle it from the society itself, not the sport,” the 66-year-old added.
Holding said the realisation has to be within the society that it is unacceptable to discriminate.
“Fine, sports can have their rules and regulations under which you enter the ground, that’s just a plaster on the sore,” he said.
“The people in the society have got to understand that it is unacceptable, and when you tackle it in the society itself, it will not spill over in sport,” he added.
Holding’s compatriots Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle have spoken strongly against racism and supported the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign around the world.
Sammy, a two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, has gone on to allege that he was subjected to racist comments during his stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.
ODI cricket earns money for ICC, not going anywhere
Fast bowling great Michael Holding feels that ODI cricket is here to stay despite the many concerns being raised about its loss of relevance as the format remains financially lucrative for the ICC.
However, Holding feels the 50-over game is going nowhere.
“I don’t think ICC will ever get rid of 50 overs cricket because that’s one of their biggest earners as far as TV rights is concerned. The money will be slashed drastically,” said Holding said in ‘Instagram live with Nikhil Naz’.
Not a big fan of the T20s, Holding said it’s time to stop making the game shorter and shorter.
“In T20, they enjoy the razzmatazz of the excitement. Long before you had your first 10-10 game, you would see people getting bored with T20. And I still see at some point people will get to five-five.
“People with short attention span will get attracted to that. But it is my belief you should not always cater to people’s short attention. You can’t just keep on getting shorter and shorter. We can’t keep on going in that direction, then you are left with nothing,” he said.
The pacer-turned-commentator further said ICC’s Cricket Committee recommendation to ban saliva to shine balls would not pose any “practical” problems.
“I don’t think this saliva ban is a serious problem. The problem with this ban is that the cricketers will take sometime to adjust. It’s a natural reaction when you are on the field and you want to shine the ball, you use saliva.”
The 66-year-old felt that sweat can do the role of shining the ball as effectively as saliva.
“All you need to do is to get moisture on the ball and you can get that from your sweat. You don’t have to use the usual saliva. The perspiration from your arm or your forehead will do the same job as saliva. And I’ve not heard anyone say that COVID-19 can be spread by perspiration.
“I don’t think any practical problem in banning saliva. It’s just a logistical problem of people being accustomed to do it and will have to practice not doing it,” he added.
Kumble had said that cricket should utilise pitches to ensure an even contest between the bat and ball but Holding disagreed with that view.
“I don’t believe in interfering with pitches. Some groundsmen might not be good enough to do exactly what is required and then the match gets spoiled. So, I will just leave the pitch and try to coach players to stop putting their fingers in their mouth,” said Holding.
The ‘Whispering Death’ picked Australian Pat Cummins as the best fast bowler among the current lot.
“He (Cummins) is the man at the moment. Before him, I was a huge fan of Dale Steyn. The best we have seen in last 10 years.”
A fan of Bob Marley, Holding was asked to describe Indian skipper Virat Kohli through one song of the legendary Jamaican reggae artist.
“Buffallo Soldier,” he said before picking Kohli ahead of Rohit Sharma as the “best white ball cricketer” of the current generation.
He also added that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) has every right to hold the IPL later this year if the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia is postponed.
There is speculation that the T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held between October 18 and November 15, may be postponed due to travel restrictions in place in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, giving BCCI a window to organise the IPL.
“I don’t think ICC is delaying the T20 World Cup because they are making space for the IPL. It’s the Australian government’s law where they are not allowing any visitors into the country before a specific date.”
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