'Ashamed' Holding slams lack of responsibility
Michael Holding has slammed the lack of responsibility in West Indies cricket as the region comes to terms with yesterday's sensational abandonment of the second Test against England at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua. The match lasted a mere 10 balls, owing to an outfield deluged in sand, and an unsurprised Holding was quick to point the finger at the WICB.
"We have seen things like this happen in the Caribbean before. Whenever we have things like this happening, like in 1998 when the Test match was abandoned [at Sabina Park], there were no repercussions," Holding said in an audio interview with Cricinfo. "And I suspect there will be no repercussions either. No one will lose their jobs; no one will be asked to resign. If you ask the people responsible whether they will resign, they'll just say 'but why? Why should we resign?' So it will happen again. Once you have no repercussions, you will always have repeats.
"It will hit home for the next two weeks. But after two weeks, everyone will move on. That is the way things operate around here when people have no repercussions, when people don't suffer for their mistakes. Or their incompetence. If you don't suffer for your incompetence, everything moves on. Whenever anything goes wrong, no one suffers."
What angered many, not least the hundreds of touring supporters, was why the Test was even allowed to start in the first place.
"Cricket in the Caribbean can be considered quite different from a lot of other parts of the world, in that all islands are sovereign nations," Holding said. "They all have their own flag, their own anthem, their own governments, currency…and all of them believe 'OK. This Test match belongs to me, and I am in charge of this Test,' whatever island it is. The West Indies Cricket Board are sometimes a bit loath to send people outside the island to say 'ok, let me check on this island, its facilities, and see if it's up to scratch' because of the politics of the region.
"But the WICB have to get away from that. It doesn't matter whose toes they are stepping on, whose corn they are crunching - they have got to make sure that wherever matches are being played, facilities are up to scratch. They can no longer say 'oh it's the Antigua Cricket Association's responsibility' - it is the WICB's responsibility and it's time for them to stop thinking about whose toes they are stepping on, and be responsible for all cricket and get whatever has to be done, done."
Prior to the Test, both camps had expressed their concerns at the bowlers' run-ups. So sandy were they that neither Jerome Taylor or Fidel Edwards could gain any sort of traction, and the flimsy base provided no stability as they attempted to launch themselves into their delivery strides.
"Jerome Taylor came to me before the toss had been spun and he asked me something about KP," Holding said. "But he also asked me about the outfield, how is he going to deal with it. I told him: 'All I can tell you is do not fight it. If you're fighting against sand, you're going to come off worse, your legs will get tired. Try as much as you can to float over the surface. I know you're not prepped for this, but try not to sink into it too deep.' And that's a ridiculous thing to tell a fast bowler. You're looking to run in and really power through and reach top pace when you deliver the ball.
"He tried a few balls over the wicket, then went around the wicket to see if it was firmer. That is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous."
After a hastily arranged meeting by the Antigua Cricket Association and the ICC, the Test was cancelled and moved to the Antigua Recreation Ground - a venue dripping in history, though none of it recent. It hasn't staged a Test since 2006 and has gradually fallen into disuse. Holding remained cautiously optimistic that the ground would be ready in time for Sunday's third Test, but sent a strong reminder to those who run the game in the West Indies.
"I think the West Indies as a region should sit down and realise this has given us a bad name. Either they [administrators] say that they love the West Indies, they love Caribbean cricket and they don't want to do it any harm. Or they say, 'okay it's the norm. Why get upset? It's a third world region'. And we should be ashamed of that. If that's the reason, we should be ashamed."