Michael Holding has hit out at the ICC over their decision to charge Usman Khawaja for wearing a black armband in the first Test against Pakistan, labelling their response as showing a “lack of moral standing as an organisation”.

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.

The West Indian and broadcasting legend has voiced his support for Khawaja after he was charged over wearing a black armband during the first Test match of Australia’s series against Pakistan. Speaking to The Weekend Australian, Holding said: “I have been following the Khawaja fiasco and I cannot say I’m surprised by the ICC’s stance.

“If it had been most other organisations that showed some semblance of consistency with their attitude and behaviour on issues I could claim surprise, but not them. Once again, they show their hypocrisy and lack of moral standing as an organisation.”

Controversy arose when Khawaja was prevented from wearing trainers bearing the messages ‘All lives are equal’ and ‘Freedom is a human right’ in the Test match at Perth, on the grounds that doing so would breach the ICC’s clothing and equipment regulations.

The regulations state that players cannot display messages of political, religious or racial causes while playing in ICC matches. Khawaja taped over the message on his shoes during the match, and instead wore a black armband, which was interpreted as a show of support for the civilians in Gaza during the ongoing conflict. Khawaja later clarified the armband was for a “personal bereavement”.

However, Khawaja was subsequently charged by the ICC for wearing the armband. A spokesperson for the board said: “Usman displayed a personal message (armband) during the first Test match against Pakistan without seeking the prior approval of Cricket Australia and the ICC to display it, as required in the regulations for personal messages.”

Holding also hit out at inconsistencies in the ICC’s regulations, pointing out that players were allowed to show support during the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling before play. During West Indies’ Test series against England in 2020, the touring players also donned shirts with ‘Black Lives Matter’ and a raised fist design on the collar.

“The ICC regulations say re messaging ‘approval shall not be granted for messages which relate to political, religious or racial activities or causes’,” said Holding. “So how the f*** people were allowed to take the knee for BLM and stumps were covered with LGBTQ colours?”

Speaking on Friday ahead of the second Test of the series in Sydney, Khawaja also questioned whether the ICC were enforcing their regulations consistently.

“They asked me on day two [in Perth] what it [the armband] was for and told them it was for a personal bereavement,” said Khawaja. “I never ever stated it was for anything else. The shoes were a different matter, I’m happy to say that. The armband makes no sense to me. I followed all the regulations, past precedents, guys that put stickers on their bats, names on their shoes, done all sorts of things in the past without ICC approval and never been reprimanded.

“I respect the ICC and the rules and regulations they have. I will be asking them and contesting they make it fair and equitable for everyone and they have consistency in how they officiate. That consistency hasn’t been done yet. I was very open and honest with that. I’ll deal with that with the ICC.”