June 27, 2008

English cricket

Collingwood disappoints

Geoffrey Boycott, in his column in the Telegraph, joins the chorus of those criticising Paul Collingwood for going ahead with the controversial run-out appeal against New Zealand’s Grant Elliott, and recalls an incident during his debut Test.

It was so obvious that Paul Collingwood should have called Grant Elliott back after the New Zealander had collided with Ryan Sidebottom after setting off for a quick single.He should have done it instantly. That's part of the spirit of cricket. It's all there, in the preamble to the Laws, written by the great Colin Cowdrey. And if Collingwood hasn't read it, as an England captain, that's a major oversight.

I remember a similar incident in my first Test, against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1964. Neil Hawke ran into Freddie Titmus and knocked him over. But when Hawke threw the ball to Wally Grout, the wicketkeeper, Grout threw it right back to him without breaking the stumps. That's an Australian team we're talking about, a team who do not give an inch to anyone.

Writing in The Times, Richard Hobson believes that Collingwood has suffered a stain to his reputation that will take some expunging.

By apologising immediately after the game he scores points for admitting a mistake. We should take him at his word and accept that it was meant sincerely rather than a public relations exercise. Yet the fact that, under pressure, he took such a flawed decision in the first place raises major questions about his ability to lead the side.

However, writing from the opposite side of the world, and the opposite point of view, David Leggat in the New Zealand Herald believes that Collingwood has been unfairly singled out in an era when the spirit of cricket has long since lost its meaning.

Had the positions been reversed, would Daniel Vettori have reached a different decision? New Zealand would be wise to keep their own counsel on any issues of spirit. They have a few skeletons rattling about in the cupboard down the years.

Certainly Vettori's predecessor, Stephen Fleming, was no shrinking violet when it came to playing hardball. Like it or not, this is the age where you make use of any advantage you can crib.

Elsewhere, the Guardian's Lawrence Booth seeks out the opinions of former cricketers on the controversial run out.

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Ashok Ganguly is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

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