Saturday, July 13, 2013

Walking the walk - Time for ICC to go beyond just talking about the spirit of cricket

On the 10th of June, West Indies wicket keeper Denesh Ramdin was suspended by the ICC for two ODIs and fined 100% of his match fee for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct when he claimed a catch off Misbah-ul-Haq during the Champions Trophy game against Pakistan at The Oval.
"This is regarded as a serious offence as it is the responsibility of all players to act in the spirit of the game," ICC match referee Chris Broad said. "I hope Mr Ramdin has learnt his lesson from this incident and that we will not see such behaviour by him or any player in the future."
Just about a month later - yesterday, the son of the above mentioned ICC match referee took advantage of an umpiring mistake and blatantly refused to "walk" after edging to slip. Now the incident has been justified by plenty of people saying that the batsman is not obliged to walk and it is perfectly fine to wait for the umpire's decision. Batsmen have been standing their ground since forever - so apparently what Stuart Broad did was just a continuation of what many batsmen have been doing - not walking. 

There were some people comparing cricket's predicament to the frequent issues of unfair play encountered in football. The comparison of a batsman not walking with the issue of diving for a penalty is not a very good one, for diving involves willful unfair play while the game is on. Perhaps a more accurate comparison would be where the defender has handled the ball or committed a foul in the penalty box and the referee has missed spotting  that. I don't think any defender actually holds his hands up and calls the referee to give the penalty to the opposing out. Sure, the opposition will rave and rant for a few seconds, but the game carries on without much ado in the case of football. 

Cricket of course is a different game, and unlike football - there is often almost enough time for the protagonists to consider - even reconsider their actions. (Of course enough time - that I mention here is relative). But I do believe that in the seconds after he had knicked the ball to slip, Stuart Broad did have enough time to consider what he was doing and that knew that he would be judged on the basis of his actions by cricket fans. That he chose to be more professional than ethical is his choice and I will leave it at that. And let us remember that Stuart Broad made his choice despite being an active proponent of MCC's spirit of cricket 

What I now want is the ICC to act in a similar way as Stuart Broad's father did and take a similar stand on this issue. Surely they cannot selectively apply their efforts to invoke the spirit of cricket and fair play. The ICC have certainly changed their stance with their punishment of Ramdin - from their previous silence on similar issues to providing demonstrable punishment. And now the time has come from them to go beyond their annual lectures over spirit of cricket and what not and keep walking the walk.  Will they do is the question.

PS: This from The Guardian where the Broad family has effectively reduced this to a laughing matter. End of.

PS2: Came across this video today, it is most instructive. Watch it.

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