Wrote it for sportskeeda.com and publised on 20 August 2010
Had Suraj Randiv balled that ball in street cricket, we would have called him street smart. Unfortunately for him he was playing international cricket and that too against a team which is to cricket what USA is to the world – a big fat bully. It is indeed ironical that the Indian media is chastising Randiv for doing something at which they are experts themselves - Manipulating the law without technically breaking it. I am not trying to play devil’s advocate by rationalizing Randiv’s actions, but I think the blame for his actions should go somewhere else. The laws of the game were created to please the MCC pensioners and are too archaic for the modern world. The very definition of what is acceptable or ethical behavior has changed. The stakes and emotions are much higher than what used to be and modern players have to keep those in mind before thinking about the spirit of the game. Would you call a batsman walking at a crucial stage of the World Cup final moral and honest? I would say he is cheating his team mates and countrymen by depriving them a chance of winning the greatest honor. If you compare our modern day cricketers to diving footballers, corrupt CWG officials, sensationalizing media they would come across as saints. Even today, cricketers generally display the best of behaviors and spirit of cricket. All of them have silly moments and incidences like Randiv’s are just a one off. I have even seen the Wall, The great Rahul Dravid take a catch on one bounce. He did not claim it but the umpire gave the batsman out as it is and he walked. Technically, Dravid never broke a law. The match was at a crucial stage and I am sure Dravid felt winning a test match for India is more important than his own supreme image. What is cheating for some is patriotic for others. It is responsibility of the law makers to design laws that are easy to understand and commonsensical and let cricketers play cricket without worrying about other things. Some of the laws which I find totally unacceptable are
1.Abolishing the mankeded law –A runner to move out of his crease before the ball is bowled is clearly cheating. Then why was it expected for the bowler not to manked him without warning. I am amazed that we had so few instances of bowler’s mankeding batsmen when it was allowed. Even then, for some reason ICC abolished it giving a license to the batsmen to cheat. We are not far away from a day when batsmen would steal a bye on the last ball of the innings of an ODI with the runner having run half way out even before the ball was bowled.
2.Penalty for running on the pitch –If I was the team’s coach of a side batting first, I will order all my batsmen to run on the pitch and damage it for our bowlers to exploit because never will an umpire dare to penalize 5 runs. All umpires give 2-3 warnings and only threaten the players about the penalty. I have never seen it enforced. A foreign umpire doing it against a sub continental team is even less likely because it will definitely lead to a huge backlash. Shouldn’t the batsman be penalized the way bowlers are, by sending them back to the pavilion.
3.The funniest rule is the one which Suraj Randiv just exploited and is related to the ending of the match. Firstly, the law is very difficult to interpret. According to it, if a team needs only one run to win and if the last ball goes for a four but the batsmen have crossed it will be counted as one run. The assertion here is faulty. When the batsmen crossed, there was still a possibility of the ball being stopped and the batsmen being run out. Hence, “technically” the match should end only when the ball crosses the boundary line and thus the batsman should get 4 runs. Please go and explain it to the ICC
Similarly, what would have happened if Randiv’s ball would have bounced thrice before reaching Sehwag. It would have become a dead ball right. And a dead ball cannot be a no ball, therefore the match should only finish once the ball reaches the batsman. Isn’t it? I neither have the inclination or the time to find out. In case you have, please explain it to me.