West Indies fast bowling great Michael Holding said that the quota system is never going to be a solution for racism in cricket. One of the all-time best pace bowlers ever, Holding said the best solution is to make facilities available to everyone, not just for some selected people.
“Go to his community and improve the infrastructure so that they can develop themselves. It’s a lot easier on them that way because you are putting pressure on them when you take them out of their community. And of course, you will identify more talents; instead of picking one, you might get 3-4,” the right-arm fast bowler said, referring to African pacer Makhaya Ntini’s selection on a quota basis.
“Ntini overcame that, he was too good and a strong cricketer, but not everyone can do that,” he said.
Holding was in conversation with a group of The Indian Express journalists as part of the launch of his new book Why We Kneel How We Rise.
Holding said that the quota system shows that one is in ‘a hurry’ to be where he wants to be. He also said that one cannot have a quota system forever.
“Ntini talks about it – he is in the South African team and is being looked at as a quota player instead of being justified of his place. He was mentally strong and able to get over it. Not everyone is going to be like that, though. It can destroy your mind,” the former pacer said.
Holding also called racism ‘institutionalized and systematic’ and revealed why he didn’t talk about racism before last year. He said that he didn’t talk about racism because he didn’t have to live with it every day, and he faced racism for only a few months when he was ‘away from home’.
“I had taken a selfish view that this is a thing I experience just for a few months when I am away from home. When I go back home, I don’t live that experience. So I just go back home, I am happy and I am content to be where I am. If you look at history, it will show you that… in the long run, it was a wise thing to do,” the former right-hand pacer said, adding that the Black people and the people of colour who have spoken against racism had to give up on their careers immediately after that.
“When Black people and the people of colour decide that they are being victimised and they want to talk about it, they want to complain about it, they want to protest about it, the system, the institutionalised racism that is evident around the world, locks you out. And you basically are dispelled from society. Perhaps that would have happened to me if I said anything earlier,” Holding said.
Holding also talked about how the West Indies were criticized for having four fast bowlers in their team, and how when England did the same thing, nothing was said to them. He said that some journalists who wrote for ‘powerful newspapers’ tried to degrade their team by taking out minor flaws, and the people who followed such journalists believed in them.
“But at the same time, we didn’t care. We went there to win. There is no way anyone could say we were playing outside of the laws of the game or outside of the spirit of the game. We played cricket to win and we wanted to beat everyone,” Holding said.
The former pacer also criticised T20 matches and called it as ‘bane of cricket’ and said, “…it’s not even cricket!” He also said that Test cricket is being pushed back due to the shorter forms of cricket. On being asked why he is not interested in commentating for IPL, he said, “I only commentate on cricket.”
Holding also went on to talk about the improvement of cricket in India, and said that even the skill sets of the players were the same as they were before, the players of this generation are fitter than the Indian players earlier. “When I played against India, probably two of the players were fit. Now everybody on the field is fit. You see how athletic they are, how dynamic they are,” he said.
Holding also added that the addition of lots of pitches in India has changed the game for Indians.
Holding also compared Virat Kohli to the West Indies great Sir Vivian Richards, and said that Kohli ‘wears his heart on his sleeve’. Calling Kohli being over-expressive on the field like Sir Richards, he added, “They can tone down a little bit as well, but then, if you are a Mustang, it’s hard to tell a Mustang to trot. He’s going to gallop.”
On Kohli’s captaincy, he said: “He should tone down a bit so that his team can relax because a lot of them, I think, are on tenterhooks. I have not seen him much though.”