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 The cricket drama

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Nov 20, 2001
Having listened to much Indian commentary on the punishments handed out to Indian cricketers, I felt the need to say something about the subject.

More diaries by ausduck
The scramjet failed :(
Hats off to em
The recent punishments handed out to various Indian cricketers by match referee Mike Denness have caused a general outrage amongst the many Indian cricket fans. However, this knee-jerk reaction is not justifiable.

Firstly, it must be admitted that observers were right to criticise the seeming lack of logic behind the punishments. Tendulkar, for tampering with the ball, should be given much, much more than a mere one-match suspended suspension. Sehwag received a suitable one-match ban for overly vociferous appealing. Ball-tampering, being far more serious, warranted at least a three-match ban for Tendulkar.
One should be aware that running one's fingernail along the seam (not a particularly smart action in itself, with the cameras on), even if it did clean the seam of dirt and grass, would likely also be used to slightly raise the seam as a "side-benefit". Put more bluntly (and a probably in an unfair manner), the dirty seam was an excuse for Tendulkar to tamper with the ball.
One final point on Tendulkar is that although he has a clean slate discipline-wise, he is not above such tactics as running down the middle of the pitch late in an innings, which some would claim as being not in the spirit of the game.

The criticisms of Mike Denness have also, to a large extent, been misdirected. When players are being too aggressive in their appealing, it is the umpires who should bring them back into line. Obviously, the umpires showed a lack of spine in doing nothing about the situation. This was a perfect opportunity for the media to praise the ICC for one of their few useful measures - the introduction of an elite eight-man umpiring panel. Once this comes into effect, problems such as those seen two days ago will become a thing of the past.
Even if this point is ignored, Denness should not be hounded as much as he is by the Indian media. After all, he has been match referee in twelve tests and thirty-two ODI's, and the only punishment he has seen the need to give was a fine to Herschelle Gibbs for dissent in the recent South African tour to the West Indies.

The suspended sentence of one test and two ODI's given to Indian captain Saurav Ganguly is also long overdue. For a many years, the overly excessive appealing from teams from the Indian subcontinent have been the cause of much anger and ill-will towards those teams. The message sent to Ganguly is one that should have the desired effect of less exaggerated appealing. It is also a wake-up call for Ganguly, whose lack of control over his players' appealing is as appalling as the field umpires' similar lack of action.

Many observers have also pointed to the comparisons of South African captain Shaun Pollock appealing and the appeals of Sehwag et al. The replays clearly showed that indeed, Pollock was, technically, breaching the ICC Code of Conduct just as much as the Indians. However, the Indian journalists screaming for blood over this apparent inconsistency are ignoring some facts. Firstly, Shaun Pollock is a very fine cricketer, arguably the best all-rounder in the world today. He is also a very young captain, who as adapted very well to the pressures put on him. Finally, he was a pillar a good morals during the time of match-fixing. It would be completely wrong to ban such a good man.

Lastly, many have questioned Denness' lack of responsiveness to media questions at the recent press conference. While not responding to the media is, in general, not to be encouraged, not having an adequate immediate response to the questions is certainly to be expected. After all, it took him almost two days of careful consideration before deciding on the punishments of the Indians. The journalists present should have been satisfied with his media release - all the relevant details are in that document. There was no need to shout at him over the situation.

It is perhaps unfortunate that one team should be the first to receive such penalties. However, with Steve Bucknor having taken a hard line against the Pakistan team when they played against England last year, it appears that the ICC is, at last, beginning to treat the subcontinental teams fairly. It is sad that Arjuna Ranatunga has already retired.


Calvinball (none / 0) (#1)
by egg troll on Tue Nov 20th, 2001 at 08:42:01 AM PST
The rules of cricket have always been a mystery to me. They seem to be made up at random, on the whim of the players. Its much like the game Calvinball, as played by Calvin and Hobbes. I will say, however, that back in my college days it was fun to watch cricket after hitting the gravity bong. Made much more sense then.

Finally, the only reason people discuss cricket is because they're either British or because they want to appear condescendingly intellectual.

Posting for the love of the baby Jesus....

Indeed, there are a lot of rules in cricket (none / 0) (#2)
by ausduck on Tue Nov 20th, 2001 at 10:41:12 AM PST
Or laws, as we would call them. About 45 pages' worth, I think.
But, for some reason, it inspires passion in millions of people, especially those from the Indian subcontinent.
And don't just call all of the old British Empire "British", a good many of those countries now have independence, and many of us still play cricket.


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