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.
According to a report in the Times of India, Huw Bevan, the production head for the ICC’s rights partner Sunset and Vine, wrote an email to Holding on June 7. But Holding wrote a strong reply blasting the gag order.
Now, an ICC spokesman told AFP the matter was now closed.
“We only want them [commentators] to be fair. We have got the best experience on board to provide quality to the viewers. And we in no way want to gag anybody on their views,” an ICC source said.
“The matter with Holding has been settled and there are no hard feelings between the ICC and Mr Holding.”
The issue stemmed from a series of controversial umpiring decisions in the match between West Indies and Australia at Trent Bridge on June 6. Holding, former pace bowler and now a high-profile TV analyst, labelled the officiating 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.
While West Indies captain Jason Holder was subdued in his criticism, all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite had blasted the umpiring standard during the team’s 15-run loss.
Holding, on his part, was vociferous in his email. “If those umpires 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?” Holding wrote in the e-mail accessed by the newspaper.
With inputs from AFP