Holding's crime was bigger than Hooper's

Stabroek News
March 7, 2001

Dear Editor,

That all time great West Indian pace bowler Michael Holding, has withdrawn as a television commentator and announced that he would not be attending any of the matches of the current South African tour of the West Indies.

Holding is doing all that because, according to Tony Cozier, he is incensed over Carl Hooper's appointment as captain of the West Indies. Hooper, Holding feels, has shown disregard for West Indies cricket in the past and has turned his back on it on numerous occasions.

That is the crime committed by Carl Hooper.

How serious a crime is it against the West Indies, though when compared with those rebel cricket tours of South Africa, at a time when the international sporting world, as one, had determined that the sporting isolation of that country was the most effective way to bring apartheid to an end?

How serious is Carl's crime compared with the action of the Packer rebels, including Holding and Lloyd, who turned their backs on West Indies cricket and undermined the official game in the region?

Can we not remember our own Alvin Kalicharran being asked to babysit a set of youngsters here at Bourda when the "Packer Rebels" withdrew? And can we not remember the concerns when the same Kalicharran was made to stand down to make way for Clive Lloyd once he had returned to the fold?

These are players, including Holding, who in his own words, "dissed" West Indies cricket and returned to take their places comfortably as captain and players on the cricket field and as respected commentators in the booths around the world.

Weigh the crimes committed against the West Indies and wonder how Hooper's assumes such proportions.

I have said before that Guyana is the only cricketing territory in the region that is not an island, and as such insularity does not come easily to us.

You may forgive me feeling that we are being generally targeted in West Indies cricket.

How could the West Indies Board so ignore the obvious hurt to West Indies cricket and have the team and the West Indies public without a captain one week before the tour? How could they select the squad without an input from the man who had played in all of the preliminary games? Why did they have to seek to undermine his position by announcing publicly that both the nomination by selectors and appointment by the Board executive were by majority and not by unanimous vote? Why did they need to do that?

Quite amazingly or amusingly, I would have felt just as strongly as Holding obviously does if things had gone the other way. I would have resigned as an executive of the Guyana Cricket Board, unwilling to give service, through the GCB, to the WICB whom I would have felt did not have at heart the interest of the game in the region.

My action then would have been just as ineffective as Holding's now.

On Friday, the two captains will walk on to Bourda and spin the toss, the umpires will come out a few minutes later, there will be a hush and the applause when the first ball is bowled, the game will end and the players will move to Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua and Jamaica, then the South Africans will leave for home.

By then Holding's boycott would have been forgotten and Carl Hooper would have completed his first assignment in the programme to revive West Indies cricket.

If Holding's bouncer is intended to intimidate, then Hooper, master player that he is, must ignore it and allow it to go aimlessly on its way. Then concentrate on the more important balls to be bowled over the next two weeks.