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Monday, 15 July 2013

"The Spirit of Cricket": to walk, or not to walk.

Long time no blog. I only really seem to blog nowadays when something big happens in cricket. However this one has really irked me, just because of the double standards of some people in the media and on social media networks. My issue concerns Stuart Broad's decision to not walk in the first Ashes test at Trent Bridge, and the whole "Spirit of Cricket" and cheating lark. 

I'll get one thing straight - I am not a walker. I am primarily a bowler, and at my level the nicks to slip off my bowling do not get held enough for people to have to decide whether to walk or not, however I feel that poor decisions average out somewhat. Needless to say I have never really been in a position to have to 'not walk' myself, due to the aforementioned poor catching. I think if I had middled it to slip like Broad I may well have walked, but that remains to be seen - I am more prone to being caught plumb in front! But I digress. The tirade of anger and anguish on twitter and in the media towards the decision did not really sit well with me, for several reasons. 

First things first, Michael Clarke could well have used a review on it, which obviously would have been successful, however he had already wasted them on other appeals, one of which was a dreadful LBW shout against Ian Bell, the ball heading down leg by about a foot. "Fault of the system", I hear you cry. However, the DRS system was brought in not to overturn the marginal decisions (or indeed the good ones, as the Bell review turned out to be!), but the howlers. Aleem Dar's decision was a howler, and if Clarke had not wasted a review earlier then Australia would have had the wicket of Broad, and still had a review left. Yes, the DRS system may be flawed, but that is not my quarrel here.
Secondly, the sheer quantity of Australian viewers who were up in arms that Broad had not walked. The irony of an Australian (or several million Australians) in disgust at a cricketer not walking is not lost on me, nor thankfully on several other commenters on twitter or in the papers. Need we remind them of Michael Clarke, the in their eyes morally upstanding human being with impeccable decency who refused to walk in Adelaide in 2010? Or Andrew Symonds against India (if I remember rightly) all those years back, who went on to make 164 after being given not out on next to nothing? And it's not just Australia, it happens everywhere, but those incidents have been the two most mentioned recently. Players can't take the blame for it all, however - the standard of umpiring has improved somewhat, so as a general rule these issues are far and far between because umpires thankfully do notusually miss those nicks, which leads us to question the abilities of some umpires on the international circuit. Again, that is a discussion for another time.

My third issue, and the one that irks me most, is the train of thought that Broad has not acted within "the Spirit of Cricket". Jim Holden from the Daily Express brought this up when on the panel for Sky Sports' "Cricket Writers on TV". He mentions the Spirit of the Game as noted by the MCC, and quoted it in saying that it can be breached if a player tries to "mislead the umpire". This is not a response to him, as I am not entirely sure where he sits on this matter, nor an attempt to 'bait' him, but purely my view. However, if one were to call Broad on this issue, of misleading the umpire, then we have a lot more calling to do as well, starting with bowlers who appeal for an LBW they don't think is hitting the stumps, if he has hit it, if it is pitching in line, or hitting in line. Then there is the batsman who waves his bat at the umpire to indicate he has hit it (even if he is nowhere near it), the bowler and keeper who appeal for something down leg side to put the umpire off calling a wide ball, people claiming catches that aren't out, people appealing for caught behinds they know the batsman has not hit, the list goes on.

My point here is that "misleading the umpire" is not just a case of not waking; everything from complaining the ball is out of shape when it is not, to appealing for an LBW when a batsman has taken the covers off the ball, it is all the same, and if we are to follow the advice of some people then we will need to fine and ban just about every cricketer currently playing professional cricket. And I don't think that will happen any time soon!

1 comment:

  1. Nice one Tumo, good to see you're still blogging and a good article too! How did you go last season?