CB Series 2011-12 February 22, 2012

Thirimanne issue shows cricket's double standards on morality

India's withdrawal of the appeal speaks volumes of the maturity shown by Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar even in the heat of battle
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The incident involving Lahiru Thirimanne and the almost-'Mankad' run-out by R Ashwin provides the perfect platform for an intellectual debate about the difference between gamesmanship and sportsmanship in an ancient game that has almost outgrown its antiquated value system.

India's withdrawal of the appeal speaks volumes of the maturity shown by Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar even in the heat of battle. Their cool-headed wisdom, coupled with sensible umpiring, avoided creating an incident that would inevitably have polarised two close neighbours and would almost certainly have led to bad blood that would have lingered on for some time. Well done India.

It does beg the philosophical question though that at what point does a team or individual cross that fine line between being villain or hero, opportunist or cheat, playing to the rules as opposed to playing within the rules?

If Thirimanne had been given out in that circumstance, there would almost certainly have been a hue and cry about India's disregard for a very traditional act of sportsmanship. If it had indeed been carelessness on the batsman's part, it would have seen the Indians cast as villains. Clearly though, Thirimanne was either prone to carelessness on a grand scale or he was deliberately trying to steal an unfair advantage. If it was the latter, who would then be cast as the new villain or hero in this soap opera?

Look at it another way. Most run-outs are decided by a few centimetres so if Thirimanne's actions were deliberate, do we applaud him for getting away with it or do we vilify him for deliberately taking an unfair liberty? After all, a bowler needs to be only a fraction over the line and he cops the indignity of a free-hit. How is that different from a batsman deliberately stealing a few precious inches?

Would it be such a dastardly act if India stuck to their appeal, if they genuinely felt that Thirimanne had been warned and was still oblivious to the fact that he was continually out of his ground? Why was Thirimanne still doing it? Genuine naivete or was he trading on the notion that he could get away with it because the repercussions of a 'Mankad' would have been too much of a PR disaster for India?

Cricket has this duality of morality issue that is yet unresolved across so many issues. If it is okay for a batsman to intentionally back up too far so he can avoid being run out on a sharp single, is it also okay for a fielder to touch the rope with his feet (so long as he can get away with it)? Generally speaking, that is frowned upon if the fielder knew the truth. It is considered poor form to not signal a boundary if your body even grazed the rope so why is it not equally poor form to back up to the extent we saw yesterday?

Why do we still have a debate about whether batsmen should walk when they nick one to the wicketkeeper? Is honesty the key value at stake - if you know you nicked it and choose to stand your ground, why is it so different to claiming a catch that may have just bounced in front of you? What about someone who appeals for a catch that he clearly knows is not out - is that acceptable because it's upto the umpire to spot the mistake? What essentially is the difference between that and confessing to the umpire that the ball hasn't carried or has touched the boundary rope?

How did cricket come to this situation where we place different premiums on different aspects of truth and honesty? Clearly, some truths are more valued than others, a curious ethical conundrum if ever there was one.

It might indeed be a good thing for the sport if Thirimanne is made aware that his penchant to go walkabout, whether by accident or by design, is bound to end in tears soon. The next time he does it, he probably won't even need to be warned. He has already enjoyed that privilege. Perhaps the lad is genuinely unaware of just how much of an advantage he is 'accidentally' gaining but if he starts making a habit of it, he will create an international incident that could be avoided. Only he knows whether his repeated infringements on Tuesday were deliberate or accidental - we'll never know the real truth.

On the matter of truth and Indians, perhaps it is fitting that we quote one of the greatest Indians of all time. His wisdom may well put cricket's curious double standards, when it comes to different types of integrity, into focus.

"Truth stands even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained. Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear," - Mahatma Gandhi.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hiroshana on February 17, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    i can't understand how the people say THIRI is wrong in that instance. game is changing and the tactics too should be changed

  • indira Gandhi from Sri Lanka on March 3, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    hi what about two out not given to GAmbir? still he couldnt make 100, Indians refused reviews, so we have to win last night match, if we had reviews we don't have to wait till last night to go to finals, What about Koli's out on HOrbart?

  • Pankista on March 2, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    I will play 2011 World Cup .. Most polbabry his last shot at the title. Imagine India achieves the title, how perfect would that be for Sachin. Personally, I know, deep down inside, that is the last thing he wants to achieve, and then he'll bow down from cricket. .. Or he might play until 2015. hahahaaa

  • gopal on March 1, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    Simple answer to solution - someway announce before every match or show a warning on scoreboard that anyone trying to get advantage by leaving crease early would be run out by bowler without any further warning. Done!!!

  • Jayantha on February 27, 2012, 15:07 GMT

    "Truth stands even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained. Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear," - Mahatma Gandhi.

    Depends on the truth, really. The truth might be that most players in the shorter games do this--can someone do the research? The spirit of the game comes from Test Cricket, played by the greats like Tendulkar and Jayawardene, and for them running out a player this way makes no sense. In the vulgar, short game, outing the non-striker who leaves the bowlers crease too soon does make sense. But, this issue is much bigger than young Thrimanne, and cricket writers should reflect more before invoking the name of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Anonymous on February 27, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    So, Hussey puts his hand out to block the ball and it blocked the throw, and Dhoni appealed - why wasn't he given out?

  • Ajay on February 25, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    What is this "Spirit of cricket"?

  • Avi on February 25, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Rules are what make a sport. If it offends the players, then take out the rule and play according to the spirit. What is spirit - "Some notion of fair play based on wisdom and experience." There is no fair play in leaving the crease before the ball has left the bowlers hand. Tthe bowler should be able to run out the batsmen, at any point during his run up till the time the ball is bowled. I don't understand how it is unfair to anyone. Firstly stop calling it "Mankading" and making it out to be a monster. This term was unfairly created by the Aussies who will play the media and anything to their advantage. Sledging is "hard by fair play", but a run out by bowler is "not in the spirit". Are you crazy. Just follow the rules and stop whining.

  • More Than Just A Game on February 25, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    So let's get this straight - the bowler is expected to warn the batsman in such a situation, BUT the batsman can happily go on getting a head-start on a run while a bowler's in his run-up, in effect breaking Rule 42(16) (the very next rule by the way), TILL he gets a warning? Why doesn't the batsman also issue a warning to the bowler? :) It is a situation where we perceive a "wicket" to be much more important than a "stolen run". That seems to be the whole problem. Let a few more dismissals happen in this manner and there will be less talk about it, and more non-strikers sticking to the rule too! Here's an alternative suggestion: just like the UDRS, maybe a call can be taken by all teams in a series beforehand - whether a warning is required before Rule 42(15) is implemented. It removes ambiguity in a game where the ruling body is too meek to stick with and enforce the rules of a game, and hypocritical enough to call it "the spirit of the game".

  • Avi on February 25, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    Fair question : How far can a non-striker back up from the crease before he is run-out by the bowler. Can he go down half the pitch and wait for the bowler to bowl. I guess with the "Spirit of the game" crowd that is OK. So how about the non-striker go all the way and wait at the other end anyway. Because he cannot be run out according to the "spirit of the game". When Mahela is Captaining SL, Ashwin should try this trick and go half way down and say - "He Mahela you were boasting about the spirit of the game and you cannot run me out. So I will wait here for your bowlers to bowl, as you may run me out. But you will have to withdraw your appeal, as per your own words"

    Please follow the rules. That is what they do in all other sports. Otherwise there is no game of anything.

  • Hiroshana on February 17, 2013, 16:50 GMT

    i can't understand how the people say THIRI is wrong in that instance. game is changing and the tactics too should be changed

  • indira Gandhi from Sri Lanka on March 3, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    hi what about two out not given to GAmbir? still he couldnt make 100, Indians refused reviews, so we have to win last night match, if we had reviews we don't have to wait till last night to go to finals, What about Koli's out on HOrbart?

  • Pankista on March 2, 2012, 4:08 GMT

    I will play 2011 World Cup .. Most polbabry his last shot at the title. Imagine India achieves the title, how perfect would that be for Sachin. Personally, I know, deep down inside, that is the last thing he wants to achieve, and then he'll bow down from cricket. .. Or he might play until 2015. hahahaaa

  • gopal on March 1, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    Simple answer to solution - someway announce before every match or show a warning on scoreboard that anyone trying to get advantage by leaving crease early would be run out by bowler without any further warning. Done!!!

  • Jayantha on February 27, 2012, 15:07 GMT

    "Truth stands even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained. Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear," - Mahatma Gandhi.

    Depends on the truth, really. The truth might be that most players in the shorter games do this--can someone do the research? The spirit of the game comes from Test Cricket, played by the greats like Tendulkar and Jayawardene, and for them running out a player this way makes no sense. In the vulgar, short game, outing the non-striker who leaves the bowlers crease too soon does make sense. But, this issue is much bigger than young Thrimanne, and cricket writers should reflect more before invoking the name of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Anonymous on February 27, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    So, Hussey puts his hand out to block the ball and it blocked the throw, and Dhoni appealed - why wasn't he given out?

  • Ajay on February 25, 2012, 15:45 GMT

    What is this "Spirit of cricket"?

  • Avi on February 25, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Rules are what make a sport. If it offends the players, then take out the rule and play according to the spirit. What is spirit - "Some notion of fair play based on wisdom and experience." There is no fair play in leaving the crease before the ball has left the bowlers hand. Tthe bowler should be able to run out the batsmen, at any point during his run up till the time the ball is bowled. I don't understand how it is unfair to anyone. Firstly stop calling it "Mankading" and making it out to be a monster. This term was unfairly created by the Aussies who will play the media and anything to their advantage. Sledging is "hard by fair play", but a run out by bowler is "not in the spirit". Are you crazy. Just follow the rules and stop whining.

  • More Than Just A Game on February 25, 2012, 6:28 GMT

    So let's get this straight - the bowler is expected to warn the batsman in such a situation, BUT the batsman can happily go on getting a head-start on a run while a bowler's in his run-up, in effect breaking Rule 42(16) (the very next rule by the way), TILL he gets a warning? Why doesn't the batsman also issue a warning to the bowler? :) It is a situation where we perceive a "wicket" to be much more important than a "stolen run". That seems to be the whole problem. Let a few more dismissals happen in this manner and there will be less talk about it, and more non-strikers sticking to the rule too! Here's an alternative suggestion: just like the UDRS, maybe a call can be taken by all teams in a series beforehand - whether a warning is required before Rule 42(15) is implemented. It removes ambiguity in a game where the ruling body is too meek to stick with and enforce the rules of a game, and hypocritical enough to call it "the spirit of the game".

  • Avi on February 25, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    Fair question : How far can a non-striker back up from the crease before he is run-out by the bowler. Can he go down half the pitch and wait for the bowler to bowl. I guess with the "Spirit of the game" crowd that is OK. So how about the non-striker go all the way and wait at the other end anyway. Because he cannot be run out according to the "spirit of the game". When Mahela is Captaining SL, Ashwin should try this trick and go half way down and say - "He Mahela you were boasting about the spirit of the game and you cannot run me out. So I will wait here for your bowlers to bowl, as you may run me out. But you will have to withdraw your appeal, as per your own words"

    Please follow the rules. That is what they do in all other sports. Otherwise there is no game of anything.

  • Mark on February 24, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    I do not know what the fuss is about. I don't think Sri Lanka team would have had a problem. If the batsman was given out, while out of his crease. After all these are the rules of the game. Every Sri Lankan player who plays cricket since they were kids would know this. I know many instances where in Sri Lanka kids do a mankad while the batter is out of his crease. It is common in street cricket, backyard cricket or beach cricket in Sri Lanka. It is just that that sought of thing is less and less when they play with a leather ball and don pads,gloves etc. Also bowlers especially the quicker one are concentrating on getting the batsman out. They are not concerned of running out the batsman. Basically the SL batsman wasn't expecting a mankad as it is rare. Also it was interesting to see India act all gentlemanly all of a sudden. To Sri lankans this is a bit strange as Sri Lankans have seen many instances in the past especially in India and Sri lanka where they have not acted nice to SL.

  • Humungousfungus on February 24, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    The ability to 'Mankad' a non striking batsman was re-introduced precisely because players were often 4-5 metres down the pitch when the ball was being delivered, making it almost impossible to run out the non striker when the ball was being hit to long on or long off, and turning dangerous twos into easy twos. There is nothing in the Rules of Cricket that says a warning has to be given, never mind the fabled Spirit Of The Game. Thirimanne was out of his ground, seeking an unfair advantage, and Ashwin was within his rights to thrown down the wicket and appeal. The major problem that I have with this is the umpire not IMMEDIATELY giving him out. The process of the appeal is exactly as for leg before, caught etc. The first action of the umpire is to adjudicate on the appeal. By not adjudicating, but instead consulting his colleague, and then asking India whether they wanted to uphold, the umpire has failed in his duty, and it sets an unfortunate precedent.

  • Wewake on February 24, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    When you know that there is a rule to run out a non striker and you cannot back up too far why should you warn the player. I donot find any spirit going for toss if there was a appeal made and non striker is being given out.

  • jkumark on February 24, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    I'm a SL cricket fan of the old school & I 2 believe LT shud b given out. He proved beyond doubt that he was deliberately taking advantage and he has only himself 2 blame if he pays 4 it. Sprit of the game has nothing to do with it when blatant disregard to rules is exhibited. If he refrained from doing so in the subsequant overs, it cud b considered an over-enthusiastic youngster' getting carried away, but LT proved subsequantly, that he considered himself 'pretty smart' continueing do the same after being reprieved. My salutes to Sachin & Sehwag on their gentlemanly gesture, but Mahela & SL team management needs to put the young man on the mat to teach him discipline & that being a 'gentleman' in this gentleman's game includes 'playing by the RULES'. Have always been at the grounds supporting my team from the time of Micheal Tissera,Anura Tennakoon & then Duleep Mendis, Bandula Warnapura eras to the Arjuna Ranatunga era, but what LT exhibited in the park, sticks in my gullet.

  • Dan on February 24, 2012, 7:13 GMT

    So brilliant article? Just wondering, does mankanding justify stepping out of the crease. If I were a batsman and if you the bowler have the right to mankand me, I am definitely going to be out of my crease whenever a fast bowler runs into bowl. What are you going to do about that? Mankand me? In your dreams. Thanks for the extra runs I would say. Cricket isn't a game about stealing runs.

  • Aghamarshana R on February 24, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    I am somewhat suprised by Umpire's taking part in the appeal itself, which rather forces the captain to withraw appeal; In regard to discipline, the on-field umpires are 10/10... it is demoralizing to see both umpires and Thirimanne not playing according to a system, while Indian team are soft targets again... If you look closely, it is always the fielding team which comes under the scrutiny of sportsmanship... while the batsmen leave it to skill of umpires...

  • gaurav gupta on February 24, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    we cannot play with the rules, just by phrasing the lame statement "spirit of cricket". they all are on the field to win not to give away the momentum in crunch situations.so, it would be better that we,Indians get out of the "old school of thinking" and good and hard cricket

  • Lankan Lion on February 24, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    It is somewhat dangerous that there are calls for us to grow beyond the Spirit of Cricket; already commercialism is taking us down a dangerous path - to remove what is perhaps the last good thing at the heart of cricket (i.e. that there is something even above the law) is not a good thing.

    A better approach maybe to clearly codify what the Spirit of Cricket is, maybe even with examples covering some thorny areas - should sledging be allowed what is a sledge, should a batsman backing up too far be run out by a bowler, should batsmen walk etc.

    Right now, the Spirit of Cricket is defined so vaguely, that different cultures, different value systems will interpret it as *they* want.

    If the Spirit of Cricket being a spirit cannot be defined, at that point it should be thrown away, because *no one* (except maybe the ICC Match Referee Panel :P) can know what it means!

  • Bata Pola on February 24, 2012, 1:06 GMT

    I am a SL fan. Thirimanne should have been given out. No ifs and buts. Sehawag was wimpy - not having the guts to go thru the appeal. Mahela is equally wimpy - he says he would do it either.

  • D.V.C. on February 23, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    Thirimanne continued to take advantage against everyone except Ashwin and Sehwag. In Sehwag's words because they were 'aware' and the other bowlers were not. Surely this removes any doubt Thirimanne was doing it accidentally?

    For me, it would be unsporting to run out a player who wasn't doing it intentionally. In a junior game my brother was once run out this way when he'd made no move to leave his crease, he was leaning on his bat, but his bat was on the line, so the umpire (his coach) gave him out. That's an example of when a warning is appropriate. "Hey, you're getting a bit close to the line there buddy, back it up a bit eh?"

    What Thirimanne was doing was not naive, it was deliberate. I don't call it unsporting, but if he wants to take advantage in that way then the rules allow for him to be run out, and no warning is necessary. That's the risk he runs.

  • Usman Khan Pakistani on February 23, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    The umpire should have given him out right away. It seems to me as if he didnt even knew the new rules and went to check with the leg umpire what to do.

  • Robin on February 23, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    If Thirimanne was given out..the srilankan total might have been reduced and India would have chased it easily.

  • mark on February 23, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    What Viru did was a good & quality act mainly thax to Sachin. othwise viru may have gone with appeal.nice to see such a gestures happening in the middle of a contest & it is a good sportmanship.But unfortunatly reaction of media & Ind fans too cheap,they keep crying to say appeal shud not hav witdrawn.No body says Thiru is right & MJ has mentioned that there is fault with Thiru.It's obvious that Thiru is inexperience in Int'l crikt & just made a mistake.This article talks about double standard in Crikt, but that is the beauti of crikt. Unlike othr games, the will of the captn can change certain things and this is a great flexibility in cricket than any other sport.Ind fans cant appreciat wat Viru did, insted they keep insulting him and SL.what a pity? this is the level of indian cricket and their fans? They only need to win by hook or crook? that is what evidece from all response of Indians.Once WI lost match to Pak in past not mankading when they had chans to do it in last ball & win.

  • Smarter Man on February 23, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    It was fine to withdraw the appeal but "soft" not to run him out after he persisted.

  • Abhishek on February 23, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    The tradition is from the amateur era for 1st class and test cricket. In an ODI or a T-20 such sentimentalities don't hold any value. But its hard to expect player playing a full-blooded game to remember all that. A rule is a rule and if implemented, we'll see many exciting feats of athleticism making the game more interesting!

  • Toby on February 23, 2012, 10:48 GMT

    I agree that he should have been given out. Although I don't really like Baseball, maybe here it can be drawn to help the debate. In baseball stealing a base - running between bases before the ball is pitched - is admired if it comes off. However, the runner knows that he is at risk of being "run-out" and has to except his dismissal when he is caught out. I think backing-up in cricket should be seen in the same way: A calculated risk taken by the batsman. If the bowler is aware and quick enough to notice it, he should be able to take advantage of it by running him out.

  • Karan on February 23, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    Because we played a part of sportsmanship, we were on the losing side. Thirimanne scored another 20 odd runs post that incident, had those runs were not scored, it would have been a different game alltogeter at the end and india would have requitred run a ball to win the match. SL has always cheated in this game as we have seen incidents with Sangakara previously

  • adrian on February 23, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    I am Sri Lankan, & I strongly believe that lahiru should have been given OUT & once he reached the dressing room,given a copy of the rules & packed him home in the next flight for been such a donkey- period. The laws of the game are adopted by ICC & Ashwin followed the rules as such did not break the rules & there is no questions of flouting the spirit of the game - surely following laws and rules in life is not a bad thing right?

    What bothers me is the actions of the umpires- asking to consider the appeal? why on earth did they think like that? follow the rules &I find both the umpires & Sehwag to be the ones who are flouting the spirit of the game by encouraging unfair play ! Even Mahela too should be reprimanded for his comments.

    Personally why would anyone give the batsmen a warning if he is backing up too far? Surely the keeper is not going to warn the batsman is he out of the crease prior to stumping? it is the same at the non strikers end Apply common sense ICC!!

  • tgevans on February 23, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    Following the rules of the game is the number one way of preserving the spirit of the game. Thirimanne was the one abusing the spirit of the game, as was Bell, a few months earlier. The Indians should not have let these abuses go unpunished.

  • Sumeet Gupta on February 23, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    I wonder why no one actually points a finger at Reiffel, the umpire. The ICC changed the rule, hence i assume he must be knowing it very well. So the umpire should know that whatever Ashwin has done is well withing the rules and straightaway raised the finger. But he didn't. Instead, he went to Sehwag and asked him whether he wants to continue with his appeal, covertly asking him to withdraw the appeal since there could be repercussions. Why make a law that could threaten to go against the "spirit of cricket"?

  • Aravind on February 23, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    India should have stuck to the appeal because batsman should know rules & hence no warning needed. Lahiru Thirimanne(LT) repeated after the incident, so it was deliberate, unfair & highly unsportsmanship so why some one should question India's sportsmanship? Mahela defended he wouldn't have appealed in the 1st place, ok Mahela can you also make a statement on why LT kept doing it after warneing? You have no words to defend it right? Atleast I hope Mahela didn't defend it in the dressing room so LT wouldn't give opportunity to put any country's sportsmanship at stake in future!! It is not the question of win/loss because still any thing could have happened & Ind may have still lost but it's the question of fair game & sportsmanship from everyone. May be Sehwag/Sachin did right by withdrawing at that moment because they may have thought it was by mistake & not knowing it will be repeated. But SL/Ind dressing room should have sent a message to field if they saw LT repeating it...

  • Busie1979 on February 23, 2012, 5:55 GMT

    If it is bad faith to run someone out for backing up to far, dispense with the rule. It is pointless. The fact is that Thirimanne was stealing singles that wouldn't have otherwise been available because he was backing up to far. In other words, he taking advantage of the good will of the Indian team in not running him out. Players should be officially warned through the umpires. The umpires should give batsman official warning along the lines of bowlers running on the pitch. It should be a 2 strikes and you're out policy. This will dispel any controversy with players being the ones to enforce this rule and stop the practice.

  • Theena on February 23, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    These incidents annoy me because they inevitably result in unnecessary debate and detract from the actual sport. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it is about time all stakeholders of cricket stop placing it on a moral pedestal. All this tripe of the spirit of cricket and morality isn't necessary - what is needed is common sense. And common sense dictates that Thirimane was guilty of either gross naivety/ignorance of the rules or he it was gamesmanship on his part. Either way, it was out. Sometimes this game is as simple and as straightforward as Ian Chappell makes it sound: run the bloke out, teach him a lesson, and he won't do it again.

  • Enigma on February 23, 2012, 5:23 GMT

    Thirimanne was clearly out, Sehwag should not have withdrawn the appeal. Tendulkar should never be consulted, he does not care for the result, only for his 'statesman' image. Ganguly would have never withdrawn the appeal, he would have in fact kicked Thirimanne on his way out. Mahela Jayawardene, before opening his big mouth, should consider Sangakarra and Dilshan's actions in the 2010 ODI against India. They directed Suraj Randiv to bowl a no-ball to deny Sehwag his century. Sri Lanka are the bullies.

  • Satish Sasikumar on February 23, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Where did the spirit and ethics of the game go when Suraj Randiv deliberately bowled a no-ball to deny Sehwag a century..of course both Dilshan (for instigating) and Randiv were penalized, but then what about the spirit of the game..when Thiramanne was warned, Ashwin had all the rights to take the bails off and appeal for the run-out when the SL batsman repeated it..he should have been given out...was this soft approach worth? Is it Team India's responsibility in most cases to keep the spirit up and be on the receiving end..not long ago Ian Bell too got a reprieve

  • Tania on February 23, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    I don't get it. The law is very clear. I think we should grow out of this 'spirit of the game' stuff and play the game according to rules. I can't think of any other sport having this kind of trouble interpreting the rules of the game. I also don't believe anyone should be given a warning - if they act outside the law of the game, penalise them without any warnings. I mean these players are supposed to know the laws inside out - they are paid to ensure they know what they do.

  • Lankan Lion on February 23, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    I beg to differ on the matter of India showing maturity... They took the path of expediency and cowardice (as Sehwag admitted, to avoid criticism); I would argue that a truly mature outlook would have been to show courage (instead of being 'soft, like that' - Sehwag) and run out Thirimanne, so he would have served as an object lesson to all cricketers that they shouldn't back up too far. How is it mature, to suborn the justice that Thirimanne should have been served?

    Sadly, Mahela Jayawardene's attitude about not wanting to perform a 'Mankad' shows that he would also probably take the easy way out (and whitewash it as being per the Spirit of Cricket), rather than serve justice on a batsman who is cheating by getting a head start.

    All this from a Sri Lankan; some of us would rather see our players play a clean game and win (or even lose, as the price of doing the right thing) - Spirit of Cricket, international incident or otherwise.

  • Madan on February 23, 2012, 3:23 GMT

    The whole Thirimanne fiasco shows that cricket is in danger of becoming an archaic sport with ageist views. Not to mention, ONLY and ONLY in favour of batsmen. The rules were changed and the changes were notified and mankading was formally BROUGHT BACK into the game. It's not as if it was just a legal loophole that the fielding team exploited. The import of the new rules is simply that the batsman cannot back up outside the crease. Where on earth does sportsmanship figure here? Why is it not unsporting to back up before the bowler has entered his delivery stride? If the public would have been offended, well, they really need to get a move on and so do the umpires. Sorry, the umpires, and not Thirimanne or the Indian team, were the real villains here. They could have kept it simple by simply asking Thirimanne to carry on..with his walk to the pavilion. There was no room for pussyfooting over it at all. I can't believe this could have even become such a big issue.

  • dan on February 23, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    People have got things wrong here.Actually Sehwag wants to continue with the appeal and it was Sachin who asked him to withdraw it.If Indian fans should blame any one, it should be Sachin !!

  • Andrew on February 23, 2012, 2:15 GMT

    A baseball analogy may yield some insight. Batters routinely try to get a head start on the pitcher when they are on first base so they can steal a base. Pitchers just as routinely will throw to first instead of pitching to try to pick them off or keep them honest. There is no shame or "lack of spirit" in either action, they are both part of the game. I doubt if anyone n the history of professional baseball has ever claimed that they were inadvertently stepping towards second base.

    As many have pointed out, if a batsman wants to claim the advantage of an early start, how can there be any shame in running him out....and why does this create an international incident?

  • Cricket lover on February 23, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    If there was a mature thing that India did in this tour. This is it.

    On another note, I think the the whole country should be asamed that, If it wasn't for India this game would have gone to the next level. Their power and bullying the weak is holding the game back.

    I think Indian fans are way too loyal. They should start looking at supporting other games such as soccer and hockey. This is better for them and better for the game. The cricketers, are spoilt too much in India and some of these senior players are there because of power and not by merit. This should change.

  • Morals on February 23, 2012, 0:58 GMT

    Ok. Lets say we are in a bus full of people and suddenly a pregnant lady boards the bus. Why do you stand up and offer her your seat? You have paid the same fare as her and you have every right to sit on that seat as her. But still you offer her the seat.

    Why do you sometimes give way to pedestrians crossing the road when clearly they are not using the pedestrian crossing? You can run them over. They were not using the pedestrian crossing.

    There are rules. And then there are unwritten rules. The day you forget the unwritten rules is the day you have forgotten your morals.

  • SL*FAN on February 22, 2012, 23:09 GMT

    I'm a serious Sri Lankan fan. So crazy that for 1996 worldcup when the electricity was not available where I lived, I had to pedal a bicycle to generate electricity to power the TV. However, I believe Thirimanne should have at least been given out for the repetitive offense. It does show good Sportsmanship of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar and bad sportsmanship of Thirumanne. In addition, perhaps lets watch how the Aussies back up. I bet you 1 out 2 probably are doing the same.

  • lankanlion on February 22, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    @TO ALL INDIAN FANS Mahela said he would have never appealed. Thats mahela's class. Sachin asked shewag to withdraw the appeal, that's sachin's class. Sprite of the game is important. Thats wat makes cricket a cricket. There were captain's who called back the player who got out, they didnt go by rules, they went by the sprite of the game. Sachin n Mahela rulez. Sachin didnt think like an indian, he thought like a legend in cricket.

  • CandidIndian on February 22, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    "an incident that would inevitably have polarised two close neighbours and would almost certainly have led to bad blood that would have lingered on for some time" Well i disagree with this thought , simple because expecting that SL fans will give any kind of positive feedback to Indian cricket is next to impossible.In Sehwag Randiv incident Indians were blamed to be arrogant,when it was clear that Randiv in particular was wrong.Here when Sehwag and Sachin took right call keeping in mind spirit of the game , still all kinds of virulent comments are being directed towards India.No matter how much help BCCI provides to SLC they will never consider us as friends and i dont know the reason of their anger.None of the Indian players have spoken anything against SL in recently or in past still they consider Indian players as bullies and arrogant,so whats the use of this so called one sided friendship?

  • Michael on February 22, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    "Or laud a bowler without breaking down his action with slow-motion replay to ease doubts in our eyes."

    Yes, because the commentator's only job is to appease the suspicions of the armchair experts.

  • slinga on February 22, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    Ashwin should have given a warning first, before going for that appeal, that is the kind of spirit we expect from a cricketer and that is the correct way of doing it (Courtney Walsh is the best example). But the most disappointing thing was Thirimanne kept doing it after that incident. He was disrespecting the opponent. He should have suspended for rest of the matches in the series. As a Lankan, i am really disappointed about his behavior.

  • Malay Deb on February 22, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    Brilliant post Michael,one of the best I have read on the subject of 'Cricket's double standard on morality.' As strange as it may sound,even naive,but I love cricket precisely because of this imperfection.It so much resembles life.

  • Smart Man on February 22, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    Very good article. Cricket sometimes remind me of the god-fearing, self-righteous pervert. Commentators will go on and on about a guy reaching his century and even give him MOM without pointing out how many dot balls he wasted in the 90's. Or laud a bowler without breaking down his action with slow-motion replay to ease doubts in our eyes. Certain topics are just taboo!

  • Nampally on February 22, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Michael, Please get real!.Cricket rules clearly define Thirimanne was run out. The umpire's index finger should have gone up immediately. That would have been end of the issue.Talking about bad blood between SL & India,which still exists, only last year Sehwag was denied of a century when SL bowled Sehwag a legal no ball just to deny him of his century!How sporting was that? Sehwag could have done the same to SL. Eye for an eye! But he followed the Gandhian Philosophy even though it might have resulted in India losing the match!Only India is following the true spirit of the game- Eh?

  • Nowin on February 22, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    If Sehwag did it for PR, he made a huge blunder, based on just too many negative comments by Srilankan fans in cricinfo articles on the subject. You should never alienate people who are pro-you for people who wouldn't like you immaterial of what you do. Now Indians hate Sehwag's gesture because young Indians are trying to break their jolly nice sportman image which is considered soft and weak in many quarters. And just too many Srilankans are saying that it was an excuse for a defeat. sO from PR pov, it was worthless. Funny thing is nobody is questioning Thiramanne's spirit for doing it again in Pathan's over while slyly avoiding it in Ashwin's over.

  • P Satish on February 22, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Not just the heat of battle but Sehwag and Tendulkar are probably playing for their futures so the desire to win at all costs would have been overwhelming and so it is even more wonderful that they knew where to draw the line. This approach will give them fewer World Cups wins, fewer series wins, and fewer trophies than Ponting but at least it will keep some dignity alive in the game.

    Though India should have run Thirimanne out later on in the innings as obviously he realised he was able to get away with it and from an innocent mistake it turned into a deliberate ploy.

  • Johnny Rook on February 22, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    I think some things just go on in cricket (and of course regular life) in the name of tradition. There is absolutely no logical reason why batsman should be warned for walking out of the crease before the ball is bowled thus gaining an unfair adavantage. Strangely this is seen as even more unethical than nicking and not walking. Only reason people do it is that it has been done that way in past. However back then cricket was more of an easy-going leisure activity rather than highly competetive professional sport it is today. May be wicketkeepers should also warn the batsman before stumping him out and batsman should warn the bowler instead of hitting him for a boundary if he strays down the legside or bowls a fulltoss.

  • Orang on February 22, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    It's very simple, India is conveniently branded a bully by countries like Sri Lanka, flaunting their small size,and bolstered by media such as Australia's Channel 9. Hence,a legitimate appeal against a batsman playing fast and loose with the rules would be just what such countries are looking for to embarrass India. All this does not have anything to do with India's abject form. It is regrettable that the Sri Lankan captain has gratuitously chosen to take the high moral ground and say he would never have allowed such an appeal to be made.

  • Sai on February 22, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    It's actually pretty clear for a neutral observer (Yes, I've been so put off by the incessant cricket that I am temporarily a Indian and a neutral observer). Regardless if he was warned before or not, running him out should not be a problem at all. Can we stop throwing the 'spirit of the game' paraphrase every time one team gets pissed? He would have to run lesser distance for a single and avoid being run out, how's that fair?

  • Marky on February 22, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Everyone knows the rules. Thirimanne should have been given out. Shewag should have held to his appeal.

    BTW, I support Sri Lanka.

  • rohit seth on February 22, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    there is no doubt in my mind that he should have been run out.. it was very evident and had been happening for so many balls before.. this is one place where i agree with the australian philosophy of playing hard and not giving anything away! very well said about the free hit case where its a matter of inches for a bowler who gets no such warnings. Indians again show their benign nature. and there would have been no controversy as such because it was within the laws of the game and what did they gain anyway with the spirit of the game? letting the opposition off the hook in a tight situation where the fortunes could have swung. completely unacceptable! If i were the bowler i'd run him out as soon as i see him out of his crease. i am here to win and not to give free gifts to the opposition.

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  • rohit seth on February 22, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    there is no doubt in my mind that he should have been run out.. it was very evident and had been happening for so many balls before.. this is one place where i agree with the australian philosophy of playing hard and not giving anything away! very well said about the free hit case where its a matter of inches for a bowler who gets no such warnings. Indians again show their benign nature. and there would have been no controversy as such because it was within the laws of the game and what did they gain anyway with the spirit of the game? letting the opposition off the hook in a tight situation where the fortunes could have swung. completely unacceptable! If i were the bowler i'd run him out as soon as i see him out of his crease. i am here to win and not to give free gifts to the opposition.

  • Marky on February 22, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Everyone knows the rules. Thirimanne should have been given out. Shewag should have held to his appeal.

    BTW, I support Sri Lanka.

  • Sai on February 22, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    It's actually pretty clear for a neutral observer (Yes, I've been so put off by the incessant cricket that I am temporarily a Indian and a neutral observer). Regardless if he was warned before or not, running him out should not be a problem at all. Can we stop throwing the 'spirit of the game' paraphrase every time one team gets pissed? He would have to run lesser distance for a single and avoid being run out, how's that fair?

  • Orang on February 22, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    It's very simple, India is conveniently branded a bully by countries like Sri Lanka, flaunting their small size,and bolstered by media such as Australia's Channel 9. Hence,a legitimate appeal against a batsman playing fast and loose with the rules would be just what such countries are looking for to embarrass India. All this does not have anything to do with India's abject form. It is regrettable that the Sri Lankan captain has gratuitously chosen to take the high moral ground and say he would never have allowed such an appeal to be made.

  • Johnny Rook on February 22, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    I think some things just go on in cricket (and of course regular life) in the name of tradition. There is absolutely no logical reason why batsman should be warned for walking out of the crease before the ball is bowled thus gaining an unfair adavantage. Strangely this is seen as even more unethical than nicking and not walking. Only reason people do it is that it has been done that way in past. However back then cricket was more of an easy-going leisure activity rather than highly competetive professional sport it is today. May be wicketkeepers should also warn the batsman before stumping him out and batsman should warn the bowler instead of hitting him for a boundary if he strays down the legside or bowls a fulltoss.

  • P Satish on February 22, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    Not just the heat of battle but Sehwag and Tendulkar are probably playing for their futures so the desire to win at all costs would have been overwhelming and so it is even more wonderful that they knew where to draw the line. This approach will give them fewer World Cups wins, fewer series wins, and fewer trophies than Ponting but at least it will keep some dignity alive in the game.

    Though India should have run Thirimanne out later on in the innings as obviously he realised he was able to get away with it and from an innocent mistake it turned into a deliberate ploy.

  • Nowin on February 22, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    If Sehwag did it for PR, he made a huge blunder, based on just too many negative comments by Srilankan fans in cricinfo articles on the subject. You should never alienate people who are pro-you for people who wouldn't like you immaterial of what you do. Now Indians hate Sehwag's gesture because young Indians are trying to break their jolly nice sportman image which is considered soft and weak in many quarters. And just too many Srilankans are saying that it was an excuse for a defeat. sO from PR pov, it was worthless. Funny thing is nobody is questioning Thiramanne's spirit for doing it again in Pathan's over while slyly avoiding it in Ashwin's over.

  • Nampally on February 22, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Michael, Please get real!.Cricket rules clearly define Thirimanne was run out. The umpire's index finger should have gone up immediately. That would have been end of the issue.Talking about bad blood between SL & India,which still exists, only last year Sehwag was denied of a century when SL bowled Sehwag a legal no ball just to deny him of his century!How sporting was that? Sehwag could have done the same to SL. Eye for an eye! But he followed the Gandhian Philosophy even though it might have resulted in India losing the match!Only India is following the true spirit of the game- Eh?

  • Smart Man on February 22, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    Very good article. Cricket sometimes remind me of the god-fearing, self-righteous pervert. Commentators will go on and on about a guy reaching his century and even give him MOM without pointing out how many dot balls he wasted in the 90's. Or laud a bowler without breaking down his action with slow-motion replay to ease doubts in our eyes. Certain topics are just taboo!

  • Malay Deb on February 22, 2012, 16:03 GMT

    Brilliant post Michael,one of the best I have read on the subject of 'Cricket's double standard on morality.' As strange as it may sound,even naive,but I love cricket precisely because of this imperfection.It so much resembles life.