'The hypocrisy of it stands out' - Michael Holding draws attention towards lack of uproar following Ashes bouncer barrage at Lord's

Australia defeated England at Lord's to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

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Michael Holding
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Michael Holding. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding has expressed his discontent with the excessive use of bouncers in Test matches played between England and Australia. Holding stated that during his own playing career, West Indies never bowled bouncers for extended periods as the current teams do. He pointed out that on the fourth day of the Lord's Test, 98% of the deliveries were short-pitched.

This issue of employing bouncers as a tactic has a historical context. In the 1932-33 Ashes series, England's Douglas Jardine devised the Bodyline strategy to counter the prolific run-scoring abilities of Don Bradman. The strategy involved bowling bouncers at the body with a packed leg-side field. Although there was an uproar at the time, no rules were changed. 

“The hypocrisy of it stands out. At no stage in my West Indies career, did we bowl bouncers for hours like this? At one stage on day 4, there were 98% short-pitched deliveries. Do you think there is going to be any real uproar about this tactic now? It’s England and Australia playing; not the West Indies,” said Holding in an interview with The Indian Express.

However, the West Indies, in subsequent years, started using the Bodyline attack against England and India. It prompted the introduction of a law in 1935 that allowed umpires to intervene if bowlers engaged in intimidatory bowling.

Decades later, during the late 1970s and 1980s, the West Indies dominated world cricket with their skilful and hostile pace attack. Once again, concerns were raised about their frequent use of bouncers and slow over rates.

Former Australian Test captain Mark Taylor referred to this issue, mentioning how battling against a barrage of bouncers could result in only a few runs being scored in an hour. Subsequently, rule changes were implemented to address these concerns.

Holding's remarks shed light on the inconsistency in how such tactics are perceived and dealt with in cricket. While the Bodyline strategy faced criticism and led to a rule change, the excessive use of bouncers by England and Australia in recent matches has not garnered the same level of uproar. Holding's statement highlights a disparity in how different teams' playing styles are perceived and judged.

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