There is a great old cliché about cricket being a gentleman’s game I have always found that a little bit precious to be perfectly honest.
Maybe in 1950s it was played in a gentlemanly fashion but since the arrival of the ugly Aussie era and the Ian Chappell captaincy which began in 1971 the whole concept of sledging has really reached new heights.
And even back in the days of WG Grace you would never call it a gentlemen game. He was as far from being a gentleman as you could ever be!
Grace was the man who once when he was clean bowled put the bails back on and resumed his stance. He then said to the bowler and the umpire they came to see me bat not to watch you bowl!
In terms of the incident with Grant Elliot in the fourth One Day international at the Oval – the key topic here is how do you treat an opposition batsman when you have a chance to take advantage of his misfortune?
The umpire gave English captain Paul Collingwood the chance to withdraw the appeal and Collingwood thought about it he had some time but in the end he said, no the appeal stands and he has to go.
Collingwood was right
He has been hugely criticized for playing it hard but I think that Collingwood in the modern era did the right thing.
There have been extraordinary occasions in the past where you might say New Zealand have been a bit soft and that might be one of the reasons we have not progressed in our cricket as we should have.
There was an incident in 1951 when the MCC team (they became England in the test matches) when an English opener named Cyril Washbrook was given out lbw by a New Zealand umpire in a test match.
Walter Hadlee, the New Zealand captain at the time had heard the snick of the ball on the bat before it hit the pad. As the batsman walked off very slowly Hadlee went up to Washbrook had a chat with him and recalled him! This is a guy that was given out lbw!
Are we too soft?
How do you interpret that? As magnificent sportsmanship? Playing the game fair and honestly ? Or do you call it being soft?
The next season against the West Indies a similar incident occurred. West Indian Opener Allan Rae slipped as he went for a quick single and is lay prone on the pitch. The New Zealand bowler, Alec Moir, didnt bother taking advantage of the situation and just let him continue.
Rae went on to make 99 in a test match and as New Zealand wasn’t very competitive in those days maybe we should have played it harder.
If what happened at the Oval had involved a New Zealand fielding captain would we be complaining as much? Probably not!
In recent time we have done some pretty hard-nosed things with our cricket. There was the incident with Muttiah Muralitharan in Christchurch and I think relations with Sri Lanka have never been the same since.
Chatfields defies convention
And there was the famous incident at Lancaster Park in 1978 where Ewen Chatfield ran out Englands Derek Randall as he was running in to bowl. Randall was backing up too far but Chatfield never gave him a warning as was the convention of the day.
That was playing hard!
The laws of cricket have got to be rewritten so umpires can make much harder and firmer decisions. There needs to be amendments and comments on the laws of the game which are published on a regular basis as incidents arise.
It is a bit like the law at large we have court cases decided by precedents.
I think if cricket could amend their laws in that way the game would be a lot easier to administer on the field.