Michael Holding's lost respect

Cricketing legend Michael Holding was invited by the Bermuda Cricket Board to speak at a banquet the other night as we prepared to send our cricket team to the Caribbean for the Cricket World Cup.

He gave us a pretty bizarre speech, as reported in the Gleaner. He slammed us and the other qualifying countries, posed his belief that our participation would lower the entertainment value for fans, said that we'd be humiliated utterly and in the end cricket loses out.

Damn, my opinion of him as an analyst just fell apart.

The FIFA World Cup expanded in similar fashion a few years ago. Partly because of this, Holding's native Jamaica qualified for this tournament for the first time ever. And opponents of expansion used much of the same arguments that Holding's using now. Minnows getting slaughtered, etc.

By his argument of only having the top teams make the World Cup, he forgets that Sri Lanka used to be an Associate member as well. They eventually became World Cup champions and are currently one of the highest-ranked sides in the tournament.

He throws out this gem as well: "I see nothing wrong with giving the smaller teams the odd tour and a few games against the bigger teams from time to time", as some kind of bone that we minnows should lap up.

With teams playing Test cricket year-round now, what Test nation is going to be interested in touring or inviting to tour, one of the Associates for some limited-overs or four-day matches? They'd say it'd be a waste of time and money for the Test nations. I cannot see the West Indies for example, touring Bermuda for a one-day series. There is no way that Bermuda would have the opportunity to play a leading nation apart from the World Cup.

I wonder if Holding is now subscribed to the same fears of losing a bigger chunk of the ICC pie that many of the established nations hold, and if things were different and it was the USA, China and Japan (and the possibilities of much more revenue gathering) competing, would his stance hold the same.

ETA: There's the beginning of some debate on the Caribbean Cricket Forum as well.

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