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The gentle, but fearless rational critic


“You can’t take national pride to the supermarket.” There it was, beautifully and succinctly summed up by Michael Holding. Whispering Death does not mince his words. That is the way he has always conducted his life, both public and private, and while he has certainly trodden on a few toes over the years, his strength of character is to be admired. He has strong, often abrupt views that resonate with many and does not take any prisoners. He was the same with that red kookaburra in his hand years ago. I know.

His above barbed statement was delivered with that deep silky-smooth Jamaican lilt while giving a hostile yet considered spray to the West Indies Cricket Board. They were once again in his sights, as they have been many times over the years, while he lamented the demise of the standards from his heady cricket playing days. Sixty tests for Mikey by the way and on the losing side only eight times. How remarkable!

Forthright, agenda-free and thought-provoking commentating is gratifying and must be encouraged. We don’t hear enough of it.

The ‘national pride to the supermarket’ reference was made late afternoon in the commentary box at Lord’s on day two as he justified the decision of some West Indies players not present to ply their trade in the IPL. He is correct. Careers are short and retirement is long.

How can the likes of Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Narine and Pollard be expected to turn their backs on colossal paydays to wear the maroon of the Caribbean? To be expected to pass up millions to be rewarded with tens of thousands is simply unrealistic. The decision they made is strictly a financial one and the situation is only going to get more complex unless some compromises are made.

It’s time to talk.

Due to the magnitude of the IPL, a window in the international cricket calendar needs to be awarded by the ICC. In turn some form of agreed percentage compensation needs to be paid by the players to their respective national cricketing bodies to placate any potential loss of earnings. That way the very best will be on show, the standards of play will always be exceptional, the players will continue to be rewarded without conflict and the home boards will benefit. Although the IPL is an Indian event that crosses many boundaries, if all international players were available it would be far superior. This edition saw the best from Australia, England and the West Indies compromised due to scheduling conflict.

You may well ask why only the BCCI should receive this benefit for their event? I feel the answer lies in the fact that they were the first, they are the biggest and they are the cricketing power-house, so something has to give. Always, in these types of conflict that require substantial negotiation and discussion, there must be give and take. The power that the BCCI wields cannot be denied nor ignored.

It would be a massive win-win situation for all involved if, in the process of compromise, the BCCI agreed to take a more considered and conciliatory stance as the most influential leaders of the game. At the moment nothing moves forward in a galvanised state unless it has the BCCI support.

It all seems common sense to me but the only thing consistent at the moment is inconsistency.


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