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For Michael, no holding back

66-year-old plain-speaking former pacer chose to address the raging issue of racism
Michael Holding
Michael Holding
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Our Bureau   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.07.20, 02:56 AM

Cricket resumed after a four-month layoff on Wednesday, not really with the first ball of the Test match between England and the West Indies, but with a well directed, passionate and searing delivery from Michael Holding.

Only this time, the 66-year-old plain-speaking former pacer chose the microphone over the 22-yards to bowl his heart out.

Rain delayed the start of play on the opening day of the first Test, in Southampton, but Holding, along with former England captain Nasser Hussain and Ebony Rainford-Brent, the first black woman to play cricket for England, took the opportunity to address the raging issue of racism while speaking to Sky Sports, the official broadcasters of the series.

Holding, while speaking on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, insisted on better education to combat racism. “When people reply to me saying ‘all lives matter’ or ‘white lives matter’ — please, we black people know white lives matter… I don’t think you know black lives matter. So please don’t shout back ‘white lives matter’; the evidence is clearly there that white lives matter. We want black lives to matter now,” Holding said.

“Education is important unless we want to continue living like this and having demonstrations every now and again. When I say education, I mean going back in history. People need to understand this thing stems from hundreds of years ago. The dehumanisation of the black race is where it started.”

“How do you get rid of it in the society? By educating people both black and white,” he observed.

Holding, now a commentator who plans to retire next year, went on to give examples of how societal perception has the idea of division ingrained in it. He questioned the rationale behind Jesus Christ’s popular image of “pale skin, blond hair, blue eyes” and highlighted the people’s ignorance about Lewis Howard Latimer, the man who invented the carbon filament, just because he was a “black man”.

“Everything should be taught. I was never taught anything good about black people and you can’t have a society that only teaches what is convenient… we need to go back and teach both sides of history and until we do that and educate the entire human race, this thing will not stop,” Holding said.

Rainford-Brent narrated her experiences of racism. “I noticed as soon as I walked into the world of cricket, comments started. I had comments about where I grew up; the fact that I had a long name, maybe I didn’t know who my dads were, about my hair, about body parts…All these sort of things were drip-fed constantly,” she said.

Players from both teams wore ‘Black Lives Matter’ badges on their shirts and took a knee before the game began.

Hussain said it was high time to sort the issue of racism. “We have all been looking away too long… The players should be proud of wearing these badges, we should be proud of wearing these badges… But really, it’s 2020. We have to wear a badge saying ‘Black Lives Matter’? That should be a given.”

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