So Michael Holding has marked out his long, flowing runup and given former West Indies team mate Brian Lara a bouncer squarely between the eyes, and New Zealand are in the heart of the dispute.

Problem is, while the champion batsman Lara may not be the right guy to be throwing stones at Holding, he has a point.

The spat between the two came out of Lara's MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture at Lord's on Wednesday.

In it, Lara said the West Indies teams of the 1980s, lauded as among the most formidable in the history of the game, were a team that "played the game in a way it should never, ever be played".


Part of their irresistible cricket came in the form of a four-pronged fast bowling attack, who were too fast, too hostile for most teams.

The personnel in the quartet changed from time to time, including the likes of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Patrick Patterson, Colin Croft, and Holding, long a respected and distinctive TV commentator, was among them.

Now he's responded bitterly to Lara's criticism, notably of the incident involving Holding at Carisbrook in the first test of their ugly 1980 tour of New Zealand.

Holding, denied the wicket of batsman John Parker by the umpire, when the ball appeared to brush Parker's gloves en route to wicketkeeper Deryck Murray, charged through and punted a stump out of the ground with a piece of eye-catching gymnastic brilliance not seen before or since on a cricket field.

In the next test, another of the fast-bowling bruisers, Croft, shoulder charged umpire Fred Goodall in his runup to the stumps, clearly changing course to connect, unhappy at umpiring decisions.

Holding has previously accused Lara, holder of the world test and first-class individual highest scores, of "getting away with murder" during his time as captain.

"I grew up at a time when West Indies dominated the world. For 15 years from 1980, West Indies never lost a test series. And just before that, Colin Croft decided he was going to take a piece out of Fred Goodall's shoulder," Lara said.

"Michael Holding decided he was no longer a cricketer, he was a footballer, and he kicked a stump. I'm sure the occurrences during that period had a big effect on cricket."

Holding wasn't having any of it.

"Brian Lara can say whatever he likes and I will not listen," Holding said. "I was never a Brian Lara fan, and I never appreciated the way he played."

Holding, who took 249 wickets in 60 tests at 23.6 each, didn't exactly defend his actions, which today would earn him a lengthy ban, while Croft's may have seen him thrown out of the game for good.

"As for having a big effect on cricket, I'm very glad about it.

''It brought the international panel (of umpires) into force," he said.

Ironically Holding's career ended on the 1987 tour of New Zealand through injury in the first test at Wellington.

The point is, though, Holding doesn't have a leg to stand on in this argument.

Both his and Croft's actions were bang out of order, and looking back 37 years, time has not lessened the impact of disgraceful actions of either man.