Samir Chopra July 9, 2008

Keep walking

They miss out on camaraderie but cop all the tension and aggravation out in the middle
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In more formal settings, i.e., in an academic journal article, I've helped in constructing an argument whose conclusion went roughly like this: walking is a nice thing to do, but it's not bad if you don't do it. But there is a cricketing setting where you must walk, and this holds true, I think, even in 'hard-but-fair' cricket cultures. That setting is park cricket.

A reminder on how park cricket works when it comes to umpiring: the umpires are drawn from the batting side, and can be changed during an innings; the bowling side agrees, implicitly, to abide by their decisions. When the side bowling gets to bat, they supply their own umpires and soon. The fabric of a park game, and indeed, the entire competition if there is one, holding together is dependent on the bowling side not losing respect for the umpires and this convention continuing to work. When the bowling side starts to think umpires aren't being honest (and not just incompetent), accusations of cheating fly and the game quickly degenerates into acrimony and recrimination (retaliation by bad umpiring just makes things worse; in cricket, like life, revenge doesn't quite bring us the rewards we might like). Unlike international cricket it is quite easy for a park game to end because of a team walking off in a huff. But by and large this does not happen; umpires do their job reasonably well and the world of recreational cricket moves along. Indeed, recreational cricket would not survive if umpires could not be called upon from the batting side. In some lower-level settings it might be possible to call upon neutrals consistently but this is rare.

It should be clear why batsmen should walk in this cricketing setup. Umpires are doing a demanding, required job, and they can clearly be accused of self-interest when decisions go against the bowling side as they aren't neutrals in any sense. The umpires stand out in the middle, they don't relax on the grassy sidelines with the rest of their batting mates as they banter, score, drink beer, and relax. They miss out on camaraderie but cop all the tension and aggravation out in the middle. Under these circumstances, the umpires must be rendered all assistance possible. My feeling is that the following thesis underwrites park cricket conventions about walking: when umpires are not neutrals and are your own team-mates, you must help them do their job by walking when you know you are 'out'.

I hesitate to describe this convention as universal, because I've not played cricket all over the world, but it seems to me batsmen generally co-operate in these settings, and those that don't are not regarded favourably (I welcome clarification and education in this regard). When an edge flies into the wicketkeeper's gloves, batsmen walk. Those that stand around glowering and making faces when given out LBW run the risk of a dressing down from their team-mates. The umpire is your mate; he's doing a difficult job, exposing himself to the chatter of opponents; it behooves you to help him out. To be someone who gives his team-mates a hard time under the circumstances is not a very clever move in lots of ways; you can unravel your own team's fabric for one.

This leads me to my further claims: a) I suspect the not-walking convention comes about in settings where the umpires are not your team-mates i.e., in more organized or higher-level games; b) Not-walking is not universally accepted, even in cultures whose cricketers believe in not-walking in international or state-level cricket. It might be that not-walking even happens in the settings I describe, but I've not seen it other than as a species of behaviour which was not approved of. Walking is supererogatory in international cricket; in park cricket it is obligatory. This is a distinction, I think, which most cricketers recognise. And I think it complicates the easy lines we like to draw between different cricketing contexts and cultures when it comes to the ethics of practices like walking.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chetan Asher on July 11, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    Just a rejoinder to Mr. Wog - ICC's paid match referees understand that Australians, West Indians & Englishmen will occassionally bypass the code of conduct. They will turn a blind eye to their violations. The same match referees will not require even legally acceptable evidence when branding Indians / Pakistanis as hooligans / cheats & penalising them. ICC's allegedly neutral umpires will make "human errors" to favour Australia almost every time the Aussies are incompetent enough to be in trouble. The removal of Bucknor after Sydney which I presume you are referring to - Bucknor had made 4 errors on day one favouring Australia. On day 2, he decided incorrectly in Symonds' favour, refusing to take advantage of technology that his employers have invested in to prevent him from making an error. It was more important for Bucknor that Australia win, than Bucknor be considered honest. ICC have actually favoured Bucknor by not initiating an Anti-Corrurruption enquiry against him.

  • Geoff Howse on July 11, 2008, 9:22 GMT

    Congratulations from Jakarta Indonesia - as a New South Wales umpire standing in JCA competition matches, I could get used to batsmen walking, provided that the ball was not a "No Ball".

  • Wog on July 11, 2008, 3:43 GMT

    M, you make the point about charging International players for contrary conduct if they don't walk and the replays find them out. It's within the ICC's power to make this a playing condition (it's already a charge to appeal knowing it's not out). Problem, if it is a problem, immediately goes away.

    More to the point, the MCC can put it in the Spirit of Cricket. They have chosen not to.

    I think the ICC would rather complain and change the umpires when Symonds doesn't walk but keep the right for Sharma not to walk.

  • shirish nanavati on July 11, 2008, 2:02 GMT

    If you are a man of character and if you nick you walk. Simple. there is no joy in scoring after what I call is dishonest and deep down you know you don't really deserve this and it is unfair to the opposing team and it is against the spirit of the game. Shirish CANADA.

  • Prabhakaran Sivanandham on July 10, 2008, 23:23 GMT

    I personally feel umpires from batting side tries to be neutral. But if the Umpire in I Innings is not fair it automatically affects the II Innings Umpire. Walking depends on the situation. Some times you prefer not to walk in second innings if the team batted first didn't do a fair umpiring. I normally walk on thinner edges when playing with friends to escape from later accusing. In matches at higher level I don't walk for half heartened appeals.

  • CS Ramachandran on July 10, 2008, 16:04 GMT

    I've played a lot of park cricket and we generally play very hard. Walking is something that comes naturally (although umpire is from the batting team, it evens out... remember, if you cheat and your opponent also can cheat). The main issue is with wides and we usually draw a line as a guide for the umpires. I see no reason for international players not to walk. Keep walking as Johnny walker says and it is healthy to walk mate.

  • Kishore Sharma on July 10, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    Technology can be used to make umpires' jobs easier, but not in the ways that have been commonly suggested (i.e. usage of technology/referrals to judge whether a batsman is out). Instead, what I would like to propose is to start by taking away no-ball decisions and counting of balls per over away from umpires. Having umpired in club games, I can vouch that these can significantly distract from the core task at hand. Technology, as in tennis, can be used to detect when a bowler has overstepped and the third umpire can count the number of balls per over. That way, umpires can focus on the operational end. If this is done, I strongly suspect that we will as a result see an improvement in the quality of decision-making. So let us start with this basic step and only consider the next level (i.e. using technology for decisions) if this does not suffice to improve umpiring. Going to the next level is a lot more complicated and should only be considered once we have exhausted simpler options.

  • mooney on July 10, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    It is not clear whether you are making a positive statement (as in "Batsmen in park cricket generally walk") or a normative statement (as in "If you are a batsman in a park cricket match, then you should walk."). The former refers to observed behavior patterns; the latter is a prescription for how one should behave. You seem to be doing both positive and normative analysis at the same time which I sort of find confusing.

    Anyway, taking your analysis as a normative one, it is still controversial. As you can see from the comments, most of those who walk do so because "it is the right thing to do" not because "it will put my umpiring mate in a spot of bother." Now I don't believe in walking and I don't really see why that should change if my own team mate were the umpire. In either case, I leave the burden of decision-making on the umpire. Anyway, just my view.

  • Simon on July 10, 2008, 13:49 GMT

    John, if you can't afford to lose, you shouldn't bet. That goes for all gamblers everywhere.

    And if you're not going to walk in the event, I think you ought to explain that to the opposition beforehand. they may not want to play with you or at least to put money on it.

  • John on July 10, 2008, 12:07 GMT

    How about if you're playing in the park, you're poor students, and there is some money at stake?

  • Chetan Asher on July 11, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    Just a rejoinder to Mr. Wog - ICC's paid match referees understand that Australians, West Indians & Englishmen will occassionally bypass the code of conduct. They will turn a blind eye to their violations. The same match referees will not require even legally acceptable evidence when branding Indians / Pakistanis as hooligans / cheats & penalising them. ICC's allegedly neutral umpires will make "human errors" to favour Australia almost every time the Aussies are incompetent enough to be in trouble. The removal of Bucknor after Sydney which I presume you are referring to - Bucknor had made 4 errors on day one favouring Australia. On day 2, he decided incorrectly in Symonds' favour, refusing to take advantage of technology that his employers have invested in to prevent him from making an error. It was more important for Bucknor that Australia win, than Bucknor be considered honest. ICC have actually favoured Bucknor by not initiating an Anti-Corrurruption enquiry against him.

  • Geoff Howse on July 11, 2008, 9:22 GMT

    Congratulations from Jakarta Indonesia - as a New South Wales umpire standing in JCA competition matches, I could get used to batsmen walking, provided that the ball was not a "No Ball".

  • Wog on July 11, 2008, 3:43 GMT

    M, you make the point about charging International players for contrary conduct if they don't walk and the replays find them out. It's within the ICC's power to make this a playing condition (it's already a charge to appeal knowing it's not out). Problem, if it is a problem, immediately goes away.

    More to the point, the MCC can put it in the Spirit of Cricket. They have chosen not to.

    I think the ICC would rather complain and change the umpires when Symonds doesn't walk but keep the right for Sharma not to walk.

  • shirish nanavati on July 11, 2008, 2:02 GMT

    If you are a man of character and if you nick you walk. Simple. there is no joy in scoring after what I call is dishonest and deep down you know you don't really deserve this and it is unfair to the opposing team and it is against the spirit of the game. Shirish CANADA.

  • Prabhakaran Sivanandham on July 10, 2008, 23:23 GMT

    I personally feel umpires from batting side tries to be neutral. But if the Umpire in I Innings is not fair it automatically affects the II Innings Umpire. Walking depends on the situation. Some times you prefer not to walk in second innings if the team batted first didn't do a fair umpiring. I normally walk on thinner edges when playing with friends to escape from later accusing. In matches at higher level I don't walk for half heartened appeals.

  • CS Ramachandran on July 10, 2008, 16:04 GMT

    I've played a lot of park cricket and we generally play very hard. Walking is something that comes naturally (although umpire is from the batting team, it evens out... remember, if you cheat and your opponent also can cheat). The main issue is with wides and we usually draw a line as a guide for the umpires. I see no reason for international players not to walk. Keep walking as Johnny walker says and it is healthy to walk mate.

  • Kishore Sharma on July 10, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    Technology can be used to make umpires' jobs easier, but not in the ways that have been commonly suggested (i.e. usage of technology/referrals to judge whether a batsman is out). Instead, what I would like to propose is to start by taking away no-ball decisions and counting of balls per over away from umpires. Having umpired in club games, I can vouch that these can significantly distract from the core task at hand. Technology, as in tennis, can be used to detect when a bowler has overstepped and the third umpire can count the number of balls per over. That way, umpires can focus on the operational end. If this is done, I strongly suspect that we will as a result see an improvement in the quality of decision-making. So let us start with this basic step and only consider the next level (i.e. using technology for decisions) if this does not suffice to improve umpiring. Going to the next level is a lot more complicated and should only be considered once we have exhausted simpler options.

  • mooney on July 10, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    It is not clear whether you are making a positive statement (as in "Batsmen in park cricket generally walk") or a normative statement (as in "If you are a batsman in a park cricket match, then you should walk."). The former refers to observed behavior patterns; the latter is a prescription for how one should behave. You seem to be doing both positive and normative analysis at the same time which I sort of find confusing.

    Anyway, taking your analysis as a normative one, it is still controversial. As you can see from the comments, most of those who walk do so because "it is the right thing to do" not because "it will put my umpiring mate in a spot of bother." Now I don't believe in walking and I don't really see why that should change if my own team mate were the umpire. In either case, I leave the burden of decision-making on the umpire. Anyway, just my view.

  • Simon on July 10, 2008, 13:49 GMT

    John, if you can't afford to lose, you shouldn't bet. That goes for all gamblers everywhere.

    And if you're not going to walk in the event, I think you ought to explain that to the opposition beforehand. they may not want to play with you or at least to put money on it.

  • John on July 10, 2008, 12:07 GMT

    How about if you're playing in the park, you're poor students, and there is some money at stake?

  • NS on July 10, 2008, 11:59 GMT

    At the outset, thanks for making everybody a bit nostalgic. Your column took us back to the fun filled matches. Yes, I always used to umpire and if our team is batting first, the umpiring has to be extremely good. In 9 out of 10 matches, the 'return' umpiring has been of similar quality. There is a direct relationship. Even while playing at the nets you feel so bad if you snicked and in a traditional field it is a goner. I don't know how you can stay at the crease if you know you are a goner. Frankly whenever I have feathered to the keeper (that is where the doubt arises) I never see the umpire. Actually it worked to my advantage. I was an opening bowler too and hence the batsmen of the opposite team would also reciprocate. The whole match would be very competitive but fair. Since I was the captain too, it sets an example all around and we really had lot of fun. Afterall sport is fun, whatever cloak you put on that. Pressure is when are with gun in hand securing borders.

  • Samir Chopra on July 10, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    Continuing...

    Amjad: Thats an interesting point. When we played really informal cricket, one rule was "no-first-ball-dismissals"!

    Mark: I think we're talking about the same thing, yes. (your comment is confirmation of my post).

    Brendanvio, Narayan: Wow, a direct confirmation of my thesis :)

    GautamB: Ah, Sydney cricket. You're a lucky man to still be there, playing away.

    Hari: Another example of park cricketers being smart enough to not behave in ways that would compromise the game!

    Kartik: If it became obvious that was happening, that convention would die out, I think.

    Kennyone: In our games, we simply followed "test-cricket-standards" for wides. That seemed to satisfy most people. If the ball didn't land on the strip, that was a wide for sure.

  • Samir Chopra on July 10, 2008, 11:25 GMT

    Folks, thanks for the diversity of comments. I appreciate the insights you have provided into your own park cricket experiences. By park cricket, I meant some form of organized lower-level competition. The Shires comp in Sydney would qualify for that, but not Aussie grade cricket in general (its a little higher level and generally has neutral umpires).

    JonO: Was your post truncated? I'm not sure how a quasi-utilitarian recommendation that a particular form of organized cricket would work best if a particular convention was followed makes me into a Kantian moral realist. As far as moral scepticism in cricket writing is concerned, I urge you to chase down the link above to see my views on the ethics of cricketing practices.

    Anshul: Thanks for confirming my point actually. "Gali" cricket is lower-level than park cricket; there is no organized comp; the cricket is too loosely structured for transgressions by its members to affect anybody too much.

    Don: That sounds about right to me.

  • Hari on July 10, 2008, 9:38 GMT

    Its not just the wides. Good umpires [from batting team of course!] can disrupt the opposition by calling no-balls deliberately. It has happened when i played. But normally things go smoothly because everyone wants a game...no body wants the game to stop until it's too dark to play!

  • suresh on July 10, 2008, 8:45 GMT

    Dickie Bird recalled Eddie Barlow telling him that while he would never walk, he would never complain if he got a wrong decision. That seems eminently fair and "ethical" to me. Bird himself said that what troubled him most were the "strategic" walkers: the kind who walk after getting a hundred but not if they are on zero; who walk if the game is heading for a draw but not otherwise etc.

  • Don on July 10, 2008, 8:31 GMT

    People spend their weekends coming to the park to play a game they love. They don't get paid to do it, and if the game breaks down everyone goes home without a game. So, it is in everyones interest to cooperate. I would argue that it isn't a sense of decency - but pure commonsense. If you want a game, play by the rules. Your only bonus is the game itself. The actual result is not as important as playing. That doesn't work in professional cricket where the match will continue regardless and the players have a personal interest in the result. They may love cricket, but on match day they come to the park because that is their job. I'll add another point. In most games where I was a player or official, there were good-natured arguments between umpires and players on calls (lbw nearly always is suspect). The common way to settle the matter is to get everyones view and let the umpire make the final ruling. The umpire is not always right, and should be given a chance to correct it.

  • R. Narayan on July 10, 2008, 7:34 GMT

    I've played some serious cricket in my time, and I used to have two standards.In a "friendly" game, I walked. In competition,(where the organizing association provided qualified Umpires),I didn't. Now that I rarely play any more, I still wonder a lot whether I did the right thing by staying when I knew I was out, even though the decisions probably evened out with the dodgy ones I was given.Strangely, I don't remember all the times when I was given out when I wasn't, but the times I stayed and it changed the game are very clear. Funny thing, a conscience!

  • Kartik on July 10, 2008, 6:23 GMT

    Another aspect of park cricket is that when there are less players per side who can adequately man the ground, one member of the batting side is nominated as a temporary fielder for the bowling side. Of course, when his turn to bat comes, someone else takes his position. Now things get interesting when this 'fielder' drops an easy catch, because you don't know if it was deliberate. Just my two paisa anyway :)

  • Brendanvio on July 10, 2008, 5:05 GMT

    'it was none other than one Graham Thorpe.'

    It's alright. It's only Thorpey :)

    I've always felt I should walk when I knew I was out. But I know I'm part of a minority. It's difficult with LBWs and I've never met a batsman who really believed he was out that way. But edges should be walked on. But then again, I play around the lower rungs of park cricket, so it's probably a different mindset.

  • Vishvesh on July 10, 2008, 4:48 GMT

    Never walk! Sometimes you are given out when you clearly are not. It all evens up in the long run.

  • imran on July 10, 2008, 3:58 GMT

    I am playing cricket for last 25 years at agood level. sometimes i walk , sometimes i don't. I feel it depends on situations:) i don;t walk if i get a faint edge on the first ball or over of my batting especially if i open or if other team got away with similar in their batting. But you always carry the gulit with you ( at least for that game). Its the same kind of gulit i feel when i score a 100 after being dropped more than 2 times ( not once as you deserve one chance at least). Some times you mate in park matches gives you out when its 50 /50 ( by naked eye) if either you are playing too slow or you have made enough & game is safe ;0 or if its last 2 overs left in first innings & umpire at square leg is next player in, he will give you out if there is a 50 50 stummping or run out : for sure. I remember once when the leg umpire dance in joy & was so happy when i got out on 99 because he was sick of standing at leg umpie & wanted to have a bat. i have that on a video ( very funny !!)

  • M on July 10, 2008, 3:53 GMT

    With modern technology, it is possible these days to get most fine nicks detected. My view is that the batsmen should be left to decide if the umpire is unsure. If the batsman fails to walk and the replays show that there had been an edge, the match referee can levy a punishment like 3 to 5 match ban with a fine. The players in the middle will be unsure whether the replays had picked the edge and will decide on walking rather than facing match bans.

  • Anshul on July 10, 2008, 2:36 GMT

    So you're saying as stakes become higher from park to international cricket, the willingness to walk diminishes. However, lets descend to the level of sub-continental gully cricket and per my experience the willingness disappears altogether. In all the gully cricket I've played with Indians and Pakistanis - there has been concerted effort in staying not-out at all costs. In fact the batting-side umpires have a big part to play in making sure that the bowling side can be cheated at every opportunity. I've seen umpires specialised in calling foot-fault no balls when no one's watching the bowler's foot, routinely ignoring feathered edges and declaring sixes for any hits landing within a foot of the designated boundaries, run outs are unheard of unless the batsman is stranded mid-pitch. Umpires are routinely changed at the bowling side's protests, and when the inning changes roles are reversed with a fervour. Rationale: nobody wants to lose, not in your own neighbourhood.

  • Gautam B on July 10, 2008, 0:42 GMT

    I have played and umpired in Shires cricket in Sydney. This competition is a turf competition whic is a rung below Sydney grade cricket and level above the Parks comp. In Shires grades 2,3,4 - all umpiring is done by the batting team. Each pair of umpires are roughly out there for 15 overs. Some walk, some don't. LBWs are the hardest to give, teammates voice their displeasure if they feel its not out but usually its never over the top. The 'home' team are usually incharge of getting the covers on and off as well before and after the game. All-in-all it adds to the sportmanship of an individual and makes even the best player feel down-to-earth.Off course, all this changes when you start playing Sydney Grade cricket where your aspirations are higer and even competing against your own team-mates. The funniest incident I saw was one of my mates, Manjot, setting a field while he was bowling. Square-leg was repeatedly asked to move a bit finer, it was none other than one Graham Thorpe.

  • Indian on July 9, 2008, 23:26 GMT

    Nice article.. For a few people like G.R Vishwanath, Brian Lara Adam Gilchrist etc, playing at the highest level was no different from playing at the local park, when it came to walking ethics.. At the end, you (fans) always have a lot more respect for cricketeers who walked than those who didn't.

    I personally, am less inclined to get an autograph from a player who snatched a game away from the opposition by not walking.

  • Mark Checkley on July 9, 2008, 21:02 GMT

    Why are we focussed on "park" cricket here? Does this gentleman perhaps mean "Club" cricket ? As a serious Club cricketer for four decades I can confirm that A. The standard of play in the higher levels of Club cricket is not far short of first-class, and contains many players who are only not professional players because they have chosen another career, but are equally able, B. It is universally accepted even at the highest levels of Club cricket, that it is perfectly normal and acceptable for members of the batting team who are not actualy batting or "in next" to serve as umpires when (frequently) competent neutrals are not present, C. I have never, in 40 years of Club Cricket, seen an umpire of that kind show bias towards his own team (NOT the same thing at all as a simple bad decision, of which there are plenty at ALL levels of the game) and D. Club cricketers do probably "walk" more readily than professionals, but the practice is by no means universal.

  • Amjad on July 9, 2008, 19:49 GMT

    as a parks player its difficult to walk because you spend seven days looking forward to a game - and then you are given "out" when you know you are "not out", usually when an umpire has turned down an earlier appeal and then reconsidered and tries to "even" up the decision making. In such a scenario it is difficult to adopt the "walk". I know that the real culprit is the "weak" umpiring, but this does happen and it is not due to your weaker moral character that you are not a "walker".

  • dhaval brahmbhatt on July 9, 2008, 19:17 GMT

    I agree with the notion that in park cricket, people are generally walkers. I have played league cricket in Illinois and a lot of grade cricket (U15, U17 U19) back in India, and I think at lower levels, people generally walk. As kennyone pointed out, the biggest grouse against umpires in park cricket is against wides - accepting a out/not out decision is the easy part. I believe it is all about the stakes, although that should not be the case. It is more a question of integrity - by not walking, you are just telling the world "I am a cheater", and that is just terrible. I think sports people loose their perspectives when they start representing their countries, or maybe it has got something to do with the fact that players are not cricketers any more - they are professionals. I think they believe that if they start walking, they are really jeopardizing their income and hence the desire to not walk.

  • Jon O on July 9, 2008, 18:17 GMT

    Please read J.L. Mackie, for example, I'm sure you must know him. Your article is gratuitously normative. Are you really such a Kantian moral realist? Let's inject some moral scepticism into cricket writing. (p.s. I'm a walker).

    Jon O

  • Gordon Barlow on July 9, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    Once, in the New Hebrides long ago, I feathered a fast ball to the keeper, and stood still in disappointment. Big appeal, "Not Out" said the umpire. By this time I had gathered myself together and was trudging off - only to be called back by the umpire (one of my batting team-mates, a cranky Scotsman). "I said Not Out!" "But I touched it." "No you didn't!" "Well, I should know, Ian," I said and kept walking. He was so furious at my challenge to his decision (and he wasn't cheating, I assure you), he stormed over to the scorer and insisted that the record show me as "OUT, RETIRED."

    Ah, the informalities of park cricket!

  • Kennyone on July 9, 2008, 17:21 GMT

    As a ''parkplayer'' and umpire I find the hardest job as umpire and what causes most arguement is the decision of wides. Never a week goes by without some sort of disagreement, more often than not from your own side! You have to call it as you see it but then the other team's umpires have a different take on things when they are in charge.

  • saurabh on July 9, 2008, 16:42 GMT

    I am playing in the Colorado Cricket League this year, it's my first year here after playing all my life in the various cities and State of India and one thing I have noticed here is that walking is ingrained in the pysche here as well. You may get an occasional non-walker but most of the times we have people who walk be it with Netrual umpires or with same team umpires. Not walking is done mostly at international level due to the high stakes and exposure as players may get lambasted for the non-performance. However away from cameras I am sure every cricketer prefers to walk as the thought that "I hit the ball will linger on in his head" long after the incident is forgotton.

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  • saurabh on July 9, 2008, 16:42 GMT

    I am playing in the Colorado Cricket League this year, it's my first year here after playing all my life in the various cities and State of India and one thing I have noticed here is that walking is ingrained in the pysche here as well. You may get an occasional non-walker but most of the times we have people who walk be it with Netrual umpires or with same team umpires. Not walking is done mostly at international level due to the high stakes and exposure as players may get lambasted for the non-performance. However away from cameras I am sure every cricketer prefers to walk as the thought that "I hit the ball will linger on in his head" long after the incident is forgotton.

  • Kennyone on July 9, 2008, 17:21 GMT

    As a ''parkplayer'' and umpire I find the hardest job as umpire and what causes most arguement is the decision of wides. Never a week goes by without some sort of disagreement, more often than not from your own side! You have to call it as you see it but then the other team's umpires have a different take on things when they are in charge.

  • Gordon Barlow on July 9, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    Once, in the New Hebrides long ago, I feathered a fast ball to the keeper, and stood still in disappointment. Big appeal, "Not Out" said the umpire. By this time I had gathered myself together and was trudging off - only to be called back by the umpire (one of my batting team-mates, a cranky Scotsman). "I said Not Out!" "But I touched it." "No you didn't!" "Well, I should know, Ian," I said and kept walking. He was so furious at my challenge to his decision (and he wasn't cheating, I assure you), he stormed over to the scorer and insisted that the record show me as "OUT, RETIRED."

    Ah, the informalities of park cricket!

  • Jon O on July 9, 2008, 18:17 GMT

    Please read J.L. Mackie, for example, I'm sure you must know him. Your article is gratuitously normative. Are you really such a Kantian moral realist? Let's inject some moral scepticism into cricket writing. (p.s. I'm a walker).

    Jon O

  • dhaval brahmbhatt on July 9, 2008, 19:17 GMT

    I agree with the notion that in park cricket, people are generally walkers. I have played league cricket in Illinois and a lot of grade cricket (U15, U17 U19) back in India, and I think at lower levels, people generally walk. As kennyone pointed out, the biggest grouse against umpires in park cricket is against wides - accepting a out/not out decision is the easy part. I believe it is all about the stakes, although that should not be the case. It is more a question of integrity - by not walking, you are just telling the world "I am a cheater", and that is just terrible. I think sports people loose their perspectives when they start representing their countries, or maybe it has got something to do with the fact that players are not cricketers any more - they are professionals. I think they believe that if they start walking, they are really jeopardizing their income and hence the desire to not walk.

  • Amjad on July 9, 2008, 19:49 GMT

    as a parks player its difficult to walk because you spend seven days looking forward to a game - and then you are given "out" when you know you are "not out", usually when an umpire has turned down an earlier appeal and then reconsidered and tries to "even" up the decision making. In such a scenario it is difficult to adopt the "walk". I know that the real culprit is the "weak" umpiring, but this does happen and it is not due to your weaker moral character that you are not a "walker".

  • Mark Checkley on July 9, 2008, 21:02 GMT

    Why are we focussed on "park" cricket here? Does this gentleman perhaps mean "Club" cricket ? As a serious Club cricketer for four decades I can confirm that A. The standard of play in the higher levels of Club cricket is not far short of first-class, and contains many players who are only not professional players because they have chosen another career, but are equally able, B. It is universally accepted even at the highest levels of Club cricket, that it is perfectly normal and acceptable for members of the batting team who are not actualy batting or "in next" to serve as umpires when (frequently) competent neutrals are not present, C. I have never, in 40 years of Club Cricket, seen an umpire of that kind show bias towards his own team (NOT the same thing at all as a simple bad decision, of which there are plenty at ALL levels of the game) and D. Club cricketers do probably "walk" more readily than professionals, but the practice is by no means universal.

  • Indian on July 9, 2008, 23:26 GMT

    Nice article.. For a few people like G.R Vishwanath, Brian Lara Adam Gilchrist etc, playing at the highest level was no different from playing at the local park, when it came to walking ethics.. At the end, you (fans) always have a lot more respect for cricketeers who walked than those who didn't.

    I personally, am less inclined to get an autograph from a player who snatched a game away from the opposition by not walking.

  • Gautam B on July 10, 2008, 0:42 GMT

    I have played and umpired in Shires cricket in Sydney. This competition is a turf competition whic is a rung below Sydney grade cricket and level above the Parks comp. In Shires grades 2,3,4 - all umpiring is done by the batting team. Each pair of umpires are roughly out there for 15 overs. Some walk, some don't. LBWs are the hardest to give, teammates voice their displeasure if they feel its not out but usually its never over the top. The 'home' team are usually incharge of getting the covers on and off as well before and after the game. All-in-all it adds to the sportmanship of an individual and makes even the best player feel down-to-earth.Off course, all this changes when you start playing Sydney Grade cricket where your aspirations are higer and even competing against your own team-mates. The funniest incident I saw was one of my mates, Manjot, setting a field while he was bowling. Square-leg was repeatedly asked to move a bit finer, it was none other than one Graham Thorpe.

  • Anshul on July 10, 2008, 2:36 GMT

    So you're saying as stakes become higher from park to international cricket, the willingness to walk diminishes. However, lets descend to the level of sub-continental gully cricket and per my experience the willingness disappears altogether. In all the gully cricket I've played with Indians and Pakistanis - there has been concerted effort in staying not-out at all costs. In fact the batting-side umpires have a big part to play in making sure that the bowling side can be cheated at every opportunity. I've seen umpires specialised in calling foot-fault no balls when no one's watching the bowler's foot, routinely ignoring feathered edges and declaring sixes for any hits landing within a foot of the designated boundaries, run outs are unheard of unless the batsman is stranded mid-pitch. Umpires are routinely changed at the bowling side's protests, and when the inning changes roles are reversed with a fervour. Rationale: nobody wants to lose, not in your own neighbourhood.