By Neto Baptiste
Former West Indies fast bowler, Michael Holding, is known for his fiery temperament and his passion for the game … a passion that came to the fore in 1980, when he forcefully removed the stumps at the strikers end with a kick after umpire John Hastie signalled that New Zealand batsman John Parker was not out caught behind.
Forty years on, Holding remembers the incident like it happened only 40 days ago and the Jamaican said that although in hindsight his behaviour was unacceptable, it was part of a series of incidents that eventually effected change in the way the game is officiated even today.
“Put it this way, there is no way you could condone those sort of behaviour. It is not something you could never condone but at the same time, dark clouds have silver lining and I think incidents like that and incidents like what we saw in Australia when … took his team off the field because of the umpiring, and Sunil Gavaskar did a similar thing, Mike Gatting in Pakistan. Incidents like that, I think, have helped the ICC and has forced the ICC to form this independent panel of umpires, and I think that is the best thing that has ever happened to the game where people no longer go to a country and think that oh, this man is robbing me,” he said.
Holding praised the ICC for the introduction of the international panel, suggesting that it levels the playing field where umpiring decisions are concerned.
“Because, if the umpire makes a genuine mistake, that is the first thing you are going to think, that is your default position that he is robbing me but now, with the Independent Panel of Umpires you don’t have that thought. The only thought you could have is that he is not a good umpire but there is a DRS [Decision Review System] to correct bad mistakes anyway so I think this fact that has brought about this Independent Panel of Umpires is the best thing that ever happened to the game,” he said.
Holding was part of the West Indies’ famed four-pronged pace attack that dominated the game in the 1970s and 1980s and included Antigua’s Andy Roberts, Barbados’ Joel Garner and Guyana’s Colin Croft.
He claimed 249 wickets in 60 Tests and 142 wickets in 102 One Day International (ODI) matches.