Category Archives: Overthrows – backing up strong returns

More from John on Narine & Pitches

27th January 2016

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

John Holder has followed up on his previous comments on Sunil Narine and pitches:

Hi David,

The reasons why so much time and effort are being put into remodelling Narine’s action are twofold. He is a match winner in one day cricket and he can earn a fortune in so doing. But the reality is that I do not know of any chucker who has been successful after undergoing remedial work on his action. If you were to see Saeed Ajmal bowl now you would be amazed. His action looks nothing like it did when he was chucking and he is now totally ineffective. I have not seen Shillingford but his results post working with Vasbert Drakes speak volumes.

Back in my Hampshire days, Tony Lock had to undergo similar work because he threw his faster ball. He left Surrey and played for Leicester. In a county match against us, he was bowling to Peter Sainsbury who was fighting a dogged rearguard action to avert defeat. Suddenly, and to Sainsbury’s amazement, a ball whistled past his nostrils to the keeper. Lock had resorted back to throwing.

There was also the South African fast bowler Geoff Griffin who was called for throwing. His career came to an early end despite efforts to correct his throwing.

There is a Barbadian groundsman, Paul Taylor who was second in command at Northampton who would be the ideal person to advise the Caribbean umpires on groundsmanship.He did a fantastic job at Northants and would be only too happy to help the WICB. Obviously, he would have to be paid but for me he is the ideal man.



John’s comment on Lock reminds me of the old story about Doug Insole. Once when bowled by Lock he turned to the square leg umpire to ask whether he’d been bowled or run out!

Meanwhile, here’s further news about John:

Congratulations, sir!

John Holder is a highly respected former international umpire, who stood in Tests & ODIs between 1988-2001, and in 1st-class cricket from 1982-2009. He was also the innovative mind behind the introduction of the ‘bowl-out’ to settle washed out one-day games.


John Holder responds to our podcast re poor pitches & Sunil Narine

26th January 2016

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

Another very welcome missive from John Holder. He dropped me a line to react to a couple of the issues that Reds and I discussed in our latest Willow in the WIndies podcast, which you can still hear here, focusing on poor pitches and the continuing confusion surrounding Sunil Narine:

Hi David,

It was interesting listening to you and Reds discussing the poor quality of pitches in the Caribbean and the ongoing efforts to remedy Narine’s chucking.

Back in 2008 when I worked for ICC, I was asked by the WICB to submit a report on the quality of pitches and preparation in the Caribbean. This I did, with special mention of Guyana and Port of Spain. What concerned me most was that the pitches were virtual baked mud, on which the ball hardly bounced. Groundsmen shaved every blade of grass off the pitches, leaving lifeless mud surfaces on which the ball did not bounce, or come on to the bat. This led to boring cricket as batsmen could not play attacking strokes and there was no life for bowlers. I never even received an acknowledgement from the WICB, much less a thank you.

In 2010 while in Guyana during the T20 World Cup, I had a long conversation with Andy Atkinson the ICC pitch specialist. I knew Andy from England where he had been head groundsman for Essex and with whom I had worked while umpiring there. Andy was regarded as one of the country’s best groundsmen. He told me that a big problem in the Caribbean was that the pitches needed grass to help the ball to bounce and carry to the keeper. He simply could not get groundsmen to leave grass on the pitches.

I remember watching an inter-island 50 overs match at Providence between Guyana and the Combined Campuses. Chanderpaul and Sarwan, two Test batsmen, struggled to get the ball off the square because the bounce was below knee-high. There was not a blade of grass on its surface. The cricket was boring.

On the subject of bowlers throwing, I cannot recall any thrower in the past 50 years whose action was remedied. Jermaine Lawson, Shane Shillingford, Saeed Ajmal and now Johan Botha are among those who have failed. I first saw Shillingford and Ajmal in 2010 blatantly throwing and was amazed that they were not called. Both have had remedial work done on their actions, as a result of which they cannot spin the ball. Ajmal played for Worcester in England last summer. The change in his action is plain to see but he no longer spins the ball. Once a chucker, always a chucker.



I replied:   Continue reading

Dr Rudi Webster responds to our podcast on the Caricom Review Panel’s Caribbean Cricket Governance Report

16th November 2015

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

I’ve been delighted by the response I’ve received, both supportive and critical, of the recent podcast I recorded with Dr Andrew Forde about the report submitted by Caricom’s Cricket Governance Review Panel into the state of West Indies cricket, and its recommendation for the immediate dissolution of the WICB.

You can still listen to that extra edition of ‘The Willow in the WIndies’ here.

I’ve had a number of emails on the subject, and have sought the permission of my correspondents to share publicly their feedback, where possible, within the forum of this blog.

One such expert opinion I’ve received came from Dr Rudi Webster, and he has consented for me to publish his observations.

In the podcast I stated my own personal reservations about the probity and neutrality of the panel, and the political personalities behind its inception and chairing – especially with regard to the previous enmity between the Board and some senior Caribbean politicians.

In particular, I was reflecting back upon the perceived reneging on the understanding reached within the Hyatt Hotel Accord – in which the WICB through President Dave Cameron was reported to have guaranteed Prime Ministers Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines a position of ‘no victimisation’ towards the players (especially captain Dwayne Bravo and team-mate Kieron Pollard) believed to be the ring-leaders of the West Indies ODI team’s withdrawal of labour from the tour of India in October last year.

This agreement was apparently overturned  when both players were omitted by the WI selectors from WIndies’ squad for the 2015 World Cup in Australasia, ostensibly for reasons of poor form – although this reasoning did not really bear close scrutiny.

Understandably, both Prime Ministers were angered at this about-turn-of events. I would not have been surprised therefore if there lingered within them some grounds for animosity towards Dave Cameron and the Board.

Dr Webster has refuted this, and indicated they are bigger and better than that, and do not fall easy prey to the sort of petty squabbles and vindictiveness which might beset lesser men. I am happy to be put right by Rudi.

You can read our correspondence below:  Continue reading

John Holder on the Sabina Park pitch of 1998

3rd November 2015

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

I had feedback yesterday from John Holder regarding our most recent edition of  Willow in the WIndies‘:

Hi David,

Yet another interesting, thought provoking blog but I must take issue about the comments from you and Reds about that disgraceful Sabina Park pitch when Steve Bucknor and his colleague abandoned the match. The pitch was POOR and DANGEROUS. The speed and hostility of Walsh and Ambrose were irrelevant. The problem was the grossly erratic bounce with balls whizzing past Atherton and Stewart’s nostrils then shooting along at ground level from the same length. Whoever prepared the pitch, or advised the groundsman and the WICB were to blame. I saw several close-ups of the surface which was corrugated. Having re-laid the pitch, the authorities should have made sure that cricket was played on it to check the trueness of the bounce. Clearly that did not happen, yet another example of maladministration, typical of the WICB.

We are presently having a glorious autumn, more of an Indian Autumn that an Indian Summer.

Best wishes


Continue reading

John Holder on Reds Perreira’s commentary ban

4th July 2015

Overthrows  – backing up strong returns

I have said for some time that the two most incompetent boards in cricket are Pakistan and the Windies. It is also clear that the president is a muppet. For him to object to valid comments on the state of cricket in the Caribbean is a prime example of burying one’s head in the sand. The performance of the Test team is indicative of the state of play in the region.

With a combination of poor performance on field and equally poor decisions by the Board, West Indies cricket has for some time become the laughing stock of world cricket. Despite Cameron’s narrow minded, self serving decisions, there will be no improvement until attitudes change.

John Holder

John Holder is a highly respected former international umpire, who stood in Tests & ODIs between 1988-2001, and in 1st-class cricket from 1982-2009. He was also the innovative mind behind the introduction of the ‘bowl-out’ to settle washed out one-day games.