London: West Indies pace legend Michael Holding has been appointed patron of the MCC Foundation.
The MCC Foundation is the charitable arm of the Marylebone Cricket Club, custodians of the game’s laws, and was created with the aim of enhancing lives through cricket.
The 66-year-old Holding is a passionate advocate for equality in cricket and the wider community. Throughout a professional career that spanned 15 years, Holding, nicknamed Whispering Death, carved out a reputation as one of the best fast bowlers of all time.
Since retirement, he has worked as a commentator on Sky Sports‘ cricket coverage and, more recently, has earned praise as a powerful and eloquent advocate for racial equality “both in the game and further afield”.
Holding said he was “thrilled” by the opportunity to join the MCC Foundation. “I am thrilled to support the MCC Foundation and its work to make cricket a game that champions respect and equality for all.”
“Cricket has the power to heal divided communities, give hope in the most desperate of circumstances, and transform lives. There is much pain and prejudice in our world, but the foundation is empowering and inspiring young people through cricket, so that they may build a brighter future,” Holding added.
An MCC release stated that Holding’s “experience and expertise will complement the foundation’s wide-ranging mandate in the grassroots game”.
“From offering coaching and playing opportunities to state-educated male and female cricketers, to delivering mental health workshops, the MCC Foundation is committed to breaking down social and financial barriers to cricket,” it said.
Sarah Fane, newly appointed director of the MCC Foundation, said: “Over the past year, important conversations around equality and diversity have occupied the public’s consciousness. These have been discussed and felt across all areas of society.”
Following the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody in the USA, an emotional Holding delivered a powerful message against racism, asserting that the black race has been dehumanised and its accomplishments wiped off from a history “written by people who do the harm.”
Fane said, “While cricket is more diverse than it has ever been, we recognise there are inequalities which still dog the sport, and we are determined to play our part in changing the landscape so that cricket becomes a reflection of the diversity of our nation.
“I was deeply moved by Michael’s dignified and enlightening contribution to the debate on racism during the England-West Indies Test, and I am proud to have him as our patron,” she added.