Known for expressing his opinions in a forthright manner, Michael Holding is one of the most popular and respected commentators in the world. During the ICC 2019 World Cup match between West Indies and Australia, the retired West Indian pacer gave vent to his anger over the standard of umpiring in the match.
It all happened after West Indies captain Jason Holder was given out leg before wicket against Adam Zampa when the ball was clearly heading down the leg-side to miss the stumps. Holder asked for a review and got the expected reprieve. However, it was the fourth time that an on-field umpire's decision was overturned in the game. Holding was on air at the time with Michael Slater and decided to freely express his frustration.
"I am sorry but the umpiring in this game has been atrocious. For one, even when I was playing and they were not as strict as they are now, you were allowed one appeal. You don't appeal two, three, four times to the umpire. That is the first thing. They are being intimidated (by the appeals of Australian players), that means they are weak. This has been an atrocious bit of umpiring by both," the Jamaican added referring to the insistent and impudent nature of some of the appeals by the defending champions.
Disappointment in Windies camp
Earlier in the match, Chris Gayle was given out twice in the same over and had to take recourse to DRS for getting the right decision. A little bit later, Gayle was again given out but this time, the ball-tracking technology suggested the ball to be just clipping the leg stump and the decision stayed.
Holding wasn't the only one unhappy with umpiring during the match. After the game, Carlos Brathwaite, the all-rounder in the West Indies team, also criticised the one-field officials, admittedly with the risk of incurring some sort of punishment. "I don't know if I'll be fined for saying it, but I just think that the umpiring was a bit frustrating. Even when we were bowling we thought a few balls close to head height were called wides. Obviously three decisions ... as far as I can remember being dodgy. It was frustrating. It sent ripples through the dressing room," the tall West Indian said.
The two men who officiated in this game were Ruchira Palliyaguruge of Sri Lanka and Chris Gaffaney of New Zealand. While the wrong decisions could be excused as part of the game due to the very nature of umpiring, allowing prolonged and repeated appeals is something the ICC might have to look into.