Holding documents “barbaric” abuse in new book on racism
West Indies great Michael Holding says he suffered “barbaric” abuse as a player in England and has called for better education to help tackle racism.
The 67-year-old former fast bowler was part of the legendary Windies attack of the 1970s and 1980s and played county cricket for Lancashire and Derbyshire.
He says he received letters containing racist abuse when he played in England.
Holding says there is a need to “understand why racism came about and exactly why it has continued”.
Talking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Holding added: “Until we learn that and we understand that, we will not be able to tackle it and get rid of it.”
Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 Tests, was widely praised last year after speaking eloquently about racism following the death of American George Floyd in police custody.
A number of prominent sports people, including Arsenal legend and World Cup-winning France striker Thierry Henry and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, have since shared their stories of racial discrimination with Holding and feature in his new book on the subject – ‘Why We Kneel, How We Rise’.
The Jamaican also revealed some of the abuse he faced in the game.
“When I first came to England to play, we would get letters in the dressing room. Some of the letters were nice kind letters, but some of the letters were barbaric,” said Holding, who works for Sky Sports as a commentator.
“They would write those letters in red ink. They would write them outside of the lines going up and down to pretend, or to try to create the impression that it’s kids that are writing these letters.
“And we know kids don’t think that way. It’s big, responsible people writing those things and sending them.”
Holding says education is key in the fight against racism.
“As far as I’m concerned, the education that I and a lot of people – not just black people, but white and black people – got when they were growing up is not correct,” he said.
“We need to re-educate people so that they learn the true history of the world and the true history of mankind, so that they can understand why racism came about and exactly why it has continued.”
The issue of racism in cricket was highlighted most recently when the England and Wales Cricket Board suspended fast bowler Ollie Robinson pending an investigation after racist and sexist posts from 2012 and 2013 were shared online.
Holding said he “totally agreed” with the action taken by the ECB.
“You have got to suspend him and do your investigation quickly,” he said. (BBC Sport)