Former England captain Michael Atherton has termed the one-match ban slapped on West Indian skipper Jason Holder by the ICC for slow over-rate, "ridiculous" in a column he wrote for The Times.
Holder was punished by the International Cricket Council for the team's slow over-rate in winning the second Test in Antigua on Saturday. That clinched the series 2-0, the West Indies' first against England in 10 years. The West Indies won in Antigua by 10 wickets in three days. They won the first Test in Barbados by 381 runs in four days.
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“With four fast bowlers West Indies are always challenged to maintain the required rate and the captain, in ICC regulations, is held responsible,” Atherton wrote.
“It is a problematic issue because clearly, the authorities want to try to speed up play to offer spectators full value for money. Ask any spectator in St Lucia, though, and I imagine they would want to see Holder leading out his team. Nor would they have wanted to see Holder rush through some overs in Antigua, instead of bowling Shannon Gabriel or Kemar Roach, say, at the critical time in the match.”
“The bottom line is that England were not good enough to take the game into the fourth day and there were two days remaining in the match unused, which makes an over-rate ban seem ridiculous... ICC officialdom may want to tread warily in St Lucia,” opined Atherton.
Atherton's nemesis for many years and Australian legend Shane Warne joined his former opponent in calling the ban 'ridiculous' and encouraged Holder to appeal the decision of ICC.
Warne tweeted: "The test didn’t go 3 days - can you please appeal this @JaseHolder98 ! What a ridiculous decision - where’s the common sense here ? Ps Congrats on a wonderful series win too. International cricket needs a strong Windies team & hopefully this is just the start".
Another former England captain Michael Vaughan, in a series of tweets, said he found the ban 'absolutely bonkers' and thinks that Holder is 'very very unlucky' to be banned even after the match ended in 3 days. He also suggested that run penalties after every innings should be used to punish teams and captains for such offences instead of banning players.
Holder will be sorely missed. He's the leading run-scorer in the series, with 229 after an unbeaten 202 in the first Test. The allrounder has also taken seven wickets at an average of 17.
Vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite is expected to lead the West Indies in the third Test starting on Saturday in St. Lucia.
(With AP inputs)