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'Umpires afraid to report some players'

Former WI bowler Holding stirred a hornest's nest by suggesting that umpires are scared to call bowlers for chucking because of 'political reasons'.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 16:38 IST

West Indies fast bowling great Michael Holding has stirred a hornest's nest by suggesting that umpires are scared to call bowlers for chucking because of political reasons.

Holding, called the 'Whispering Death' in his playing days for his lethal bowling, said chucking could be weeded out from international cricket only when "people in authority have the backbone to do what is right and not what is politically expedient".

"Once you see something with the naked eye, you should be reporting it and having it assessed and measured properly. The difficulty is in the politics surrounding it, with people afraid to report certain players," the 52-year-old said in an interview.

Holding felt that the ability of umpires to interpret potentially flawed actions was further complicated by issues like hyper-extension which could create optical illusions.

"That's why there are problems because the umpires will not call anybody on the field. I did something with Shoaib Akhtar at the end of the Test match in Karachi, when I compared him to R P Singh to show that both have hyperextension.

"When you look at Shoaib Akhtar and R P Singh from the front, you see a bent arm with one and a straight arm with the other. As I said, politics is preventing people from doing what they should," Holding, now a popular TV commentator, said.

Holding, a key member of the ICC expert committee that helped develop the 15 degree levels of tolerance applied for international bowlers, said the correct procedure should be adopted while measuring a bowler's flex under laboratory conditions.

"When you see something that looks awkward to you, you can go to the TV booth or the production company van and then look at the slow-motion replays to make sure it's seemingly a chuck.

"Then you can send the guy to the lab to be measured. If it's a fast bowler, they'll know what the speed he was bowling in the game. He has to be bowling at 90 to 95 per cent of that speed in the lab, otherwise they'll know he's holding back.

"If he goes into the lab and does not do what he does in the game, it is upto the people testing him to report to the ICC that they are not satisfied. That's written in the laws," he said. 

Holding rated Australian skipper Ricky Ponting as the best player of fast bowling in contemporary cricket.

Asked who were the best players of fast bowling from the current lot, Holding said, "I would say Ricky Ponting. Sachin Tendulkar -- upto three years ago but not now. Michael Vaughan. Rahul Dravid, to a certain degree. VVS Laxman too."

Explaining what he meant by a "certain degree", he said, "they play it reasonably well. I wouldn't say that they're exceptional players of fast bowling. They can survive because of their technique. They cannot destroy attacks."

Holding also mentioned Inzamam-ul Haq "who can make a hundred against any attack" and Saeed Anwar as two good players of fast bowling.

He said lot of skills were involved in negotiating fast bowlers, adding that Sunil Gavaskar and Viv Richards were "fantastic" against pace.

"They were fantastic players, as simple as that. They didn't need to wear helmets because they were good enough not to get hit."

Asked if there was any batsman who just ran away from pace bowling, he said, "I remember (Dilip) Vengsarkar backing away on his first tour of West Indies, in Jamaica. It was a pitch on which a lot of guys got hit. But I can't remember him backing off later on in his career."