By Colin E. H. Croft
It has been interesting to note that cricketers still have some steel in their bellies and hot blood in their veins. Recently, over the last decade or so, cricketing authorities have been so restrictive that cricketers had, in some sense, been neutered of their abilities to have any reactions at all, good or bad.
The recent spat featuring Tino Best, St. Lucia Zouks fast bowler, who, all know, was born in Barbados, and Shoaib Malik, the Pakistani all-rounder playing for Barbados Tridents in Caribbean Premier League, was at least enjoyably energetic, reminding all that these are highly volatile, professional sportsmen.
Similarly, England’s fast bowler Jimmy Anderson and India’s all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja recently had an altercation at Trent Bridge during the teams’ 1st Test, a situation that both have had to answer for at very legal ICC meetings. Match Referee David Boon, a very likeable bloke, must be pulling his hair out! Look, for example, it was not too long ago that it was determined by International Cricket Council that bowlers must, not maybe, but must actually turn heads back towards umpires while appealing for a catch or LBW. No longer was a bowler allowed to assume that the catch was taken and would be given.
Does that not smack of supplication, as if bowlers are actually begging for some sort of recognition of their efforts and successes? Are umpires not simply supposed to do their jobs and make decisions too?
If a batsman edges a delivery, why does a bowler have to turn his head and body towards the umpires, moves that could incur injuries, just to appeal? Do appeals without turns of heads not count?
If ICC wants to help cricket, they can remove the dumb obstacles that they have placed on the umpires, thus making them, nowadays, nothing but ball counters, since that is all that they still do with impunity.
Why, for another example, can an umpire not call a bowler for chucking, if, indeed, the umpire thinks that situation is so? The rest will take care of itself. Sheer nonsense!
Almost every other decision made nowadays by on-filed umpires must almost always be given and confirmed by what is called “The Television Umpire”, whom, occasionally, is a local.
Incidentally, where is that neutrality that ICC suggests to be present in adjudicating difficult decisions?
Anyway, when we played internationally, we may not have had technologies to ensure “more correct” decisions could be made, but very few umpires anywhere could, or would, suggest that international cricket teams, might they have been from West Indies or anywhere else, were anything but respectful.
Indeed, England’s Harold “Dickie” Bird, one of the most revered international umpires ever, has always maintained that “at no time ever were those West Indies cricketers anything but honest, professional, hard-working cricketers and gentlemen. It has always been my privilege to be on the field with them!”
But, one must also remember that fracas between Pakistani Umpire Shakur Rana and England’s then captain Mike Gatting, a confrontation, in Faisalabad, 1986, that supposedly threatened the very diplomatic relationship between the two erstwhile countries. What a massively big noise that was!
West Indies tour to New Zealand 1979/80 has gone down in history as being one of the most tumultuous cricket tours ever. To this day, some New Zealanders still revel in that “defeat” of WI.
Firstly, there was fast bowler Michael Holding kicking out a stump with the fantastic finesse and fluidity of a Christiano Renaldo free-kick, feet high, after a terrible “none” decision, wicket-keeper Deryck Murray taking the “none” catch in front of 2nd slip.
NZ’s John Parker had to change his glove immediately, so torn had it instantaneously become after being destroyed by Holding’s pacy out-swinger! What a thing!
Meanwhile, yours truly had an accidental incursion, a “collision”, with an on-field umpire who had recently given several extremely poor decisions against West Indies. That umpire should have gone to Hollywood, since his superb play-acting had to be seen to be believed; far, far better than his umpiring!
It goes without saying that if those had happened nowadays, both of us would likely have been banned from playing cricket for life. Or maybe, we could have even hired very competent lawyers! But there have been very few “player v player” confrontations. Normally, they are not present because most cricketers have that special respect for others who practice their own profession too! The couple that stand out involved some very vigorous, animated international cricketers.
While I was still playing, Australia’s premier fast bowler Dennis Lillee and Pakistan’s always non-phlegmatic, lively batsman Javed Miandad had a famous flare-up at Perth, Australia, back in 1981.
Photographs were frozen with Javed having bat raised like a small axe, set to strike, while Lille bobbed and weaved like boxer Roberto Duran. Those reflective silhouettes are still so very funny to recall!
More recently; 2003; West Indian batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan and another great Aussie pace-man, Glenn Mc Grath, exchanged opinions with accusation and counter accusations, nearly coming to blows.
The difference of these situations is that live television cameras caught the later happenings! Enjoy!
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