July 14, 2013

Would Genghis Khan have walked?

Andrew Hughes
Australia plead to Aleem Dar to give Stuart Broad out after a thick edge, England v Australia, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day, July 12, 2013
Look ma, it's a firesale  © Getty Images


Unless one of the Sunday papers has been sitting on photos of Darren Lehmann in a compromising position with Her Majesty, or Geoffrey Boycott claims to have been abducted by aliens during England's second innings, this first Test (of, God help us, ten) will be remembered for Stuart Broad's sheepish look; the look of a schoolboy who knows very well who left that whoopee cushion on the headmaster's chair but is saying nothing.

They say that every batsman knows when he has hit it, but sometimes it's hard for the rest of us to know, so we give them the benefit of the doubt. In this case, the nick was woodier than a gap year with the lumberjacks of the Yukon. He knows he hit it. We know he hit it. We know that he knows that he hit it, and he knows that we know that he knows that he hit it.

Has he cheated? By Graeme Swann's standards, he has. Graeme takes a dim view of this sort of thing. He had this to say last year when Dilruwan Perera stood his ground:

"The umpire was unsighted, but the batsman stood there knowing 100% that he was out and chose to cheat in my view."

I'm not sure I'd go that far, Graeme, but whether you call it cheating or not, it was dishonest. Of course, Broad isn't the first cricketer to do it, and it doesn't make him the reincarnation of Genghis Khan*. This isn't really about Broad. It's about whether we're happy with blatant dishonesty in the game. When asked, most of the decommissioned pros in the media evade the question. Not walking is common, they say, it happens.

True, but then lots of things happen. Sometimes people don't give up their seats for elderly ladies. Sometimes we find a £10 note on the floor and keep it. We fiddle our expenses claims, park in no-parking areas, exaggerate our injuries for the purpose of claiming insurance, play our dreadful music loudly on the train, refuse to cover our mouths when coughing, and occasionally accept money for bowling no-balls.

Let's tweak the DRS and get rid of the game-show gimmick of the player referral

The question is not whether it happens, but whether it is right.

Ex-pros seem unable to give a straight answer, and it's at times like these that the disadvantage of having our press boxes and commentary booths stuffed with them becomes apparent. With one or two notable exceptions, they close ranks and offer up the usual tatty rag-bag of rationalisations: Australians don't walk; it's the umpire's fault; Stuart Broad's a nice lad; anything to avoid exercising their grey matter on an ethical issue.

Sometimes they say we non-players can't understand because we've never played cricket at their level, but I'm not sure an ability to play a beautiful cover drive is a prerequisite for making moral decisions. I've never been an MP, but I know it's dishonest for an MP to fiddle her expenses. I'm not much good with a scalpel, but I know it's unethical for a surgeon to mislay a kidney, deny everything, and hope no one notices.

Winning at all costs may be the professional thing to do, but I don't watch cricket because I want one team or the other to win at all costs. It's a beautiful pastime; a game, not a life-or-death post-apocalyptic struggle starring Mel Gibson.

So since, like small children, pet crocodiles, and investment bankers, professional cricketers cannot be trusted, they need closer supervision. Let's tweak the DRS and get rid of the game-show gimmick of the player referral. (Ah, Michael, if only you hadn't already used your referral joker, you might have won the big prize. You go home with nothing, but you've been a great sport!) Let the on-field umpires have a stab at umpiring, have the off-field umpires correcting their bloopers as they go along, and we need never go through this nonsense again.

*Genghis obviously wouldn't have walked. He would have offered Aleem Dar a steely glare, before killing all of the Australians, the umpires, and the spectators, then burning Trent Bridge to the ground. At which point a retired Mongol soldier would pop up on the radio to explain that we shouldn't blame Genghis because Attila would have done the same.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by vishnu1503 on (July 18, 2013, 10:32 GMT)

Look at this scenario - The batsman has not touched the ball and is given out caught behind. Lets say he decides to tell the on field umpire that he definitely did not nick the ball - would the decision then be reversed? Would the umpire believe him? Of course not... So what we are basically saying is that if the batsman is given out incorrectly we will not take his word for it, but if he is given not out incorrectly then he must take the moral high ground and walk. Rubbish - it must work both ways and until that happens it is unfair to expect a batsman to walk. It is the job of the umpire to decide if a batsman is out or not, and the nature of cricket is such that a test match could have a number of incorrect decisions being made - but they should all balance out at the end of the day. If Broad was out the very next ball, no one would bother with this debate. Because he took the game away from Aus after that decision, that's why we are debating it today.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (July 17, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

Hi AH....nice article...liked the humour...My 5c's...SB did'nt cheat...what he did was not in the spirit of the game, not sportsmanship-'thatz not cricket', big difference betn cheating n spirit of the game....but spare him for not walking, the rules donot specifically mention walking....and he was well within the rules to stay there with his pratulant poker face....in real life how many of us would go up to the local police station every time we sped 5 k's over the limit ( i would probably have to go everyday!!!)....similaly a player who 'walks' should'nt be glorified or put on a pedestal....the one good thing coming out of this is people admitting DRS ain't perfect and the be all end all, i guesss that money making monolith evil empire root-cause-of-al- thatz-bad-with-the- noble- game-organisation needs some kudos after all...for refusing to go with the DRS instead of being slagged at every oppurtunity (am no fan of them board either...but just wanted to get this vent off me chest!

Posted by py0alb on (July 15, 2013, 15:17 GMT)

Lets just get this straight once and for all: bowlers bowl, batsmen bat, and umpire make the decisions. If the umpires says not out, its not out, hard luck, next ball please.

No player, whether batsmen, bowler, fielder, has the right to overrule and undermine the umpires like you are suggesting Broad should have done here. That would make a mockery of the game.

Posted by TrexTrainer on (July 15, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

I cannot believe walking is even a conversation. There are some decisions that go against and some go for you. Nobody needs to walk. That's part of the game.

Posted by   on (July 14, 2013, 22:02 GMT)

If Dinesh Ramdin was suspended for claiming a a catch which had bounced before his gloves, then why is Broad not suspended? Why was Ponting / Gilchrist not suspended for claiming catches in the Sydney Test (Sydneygate)? Somewhere, I feel ICC officials using different yardstick for Asian / Windies Teams than for Aus / Eng / SA / NZ

Posted by vallavarayar on (July 14, 2013, 20:09 GMT)

Chingiz khan was a gentleman. Mighta walked.funny though.

Posted by SagirParkar on (July 14, 2013, 17:37 GMT)

well said Andrew.. well said.. that is exactly the point.. at this stage it is useless to blame Broad for not walking - the Aussies are notoriously famous for that. but the ICC sure does need to have a long look at the way DRS is implemented and executed... andd that 'umpire's call' for marginal decisions should not get in the way of objectivity..

Posted by   on (July 14, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

Genghis Khan reference fantastic, look forward to Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible references later in the series.

*Genghis obviously wouldn't have walked. He would have offered Aleem Dar a steely glare, before killing all of the Australians, the umpires, and the spectators, then burning Trent Bridge to the ground. At which point a retired Mongol soldier would pop up on the radio to explain that we shouldn't blame Genghis because Attila would have done the same.

Posted by SoverBerry2 on (July 14, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

Before killing Cook, Genghis Khan will bowl around wide length to Cook.

Posted by cyborg909 on (July 14, 2013, 6:29 GMT)

Thank you so much for this article. Genghis Khan reference was hilarious :)

Posted by zmahmud on (July 14, 2013, 6:02 GMT)

Wow, Genghis Khan? This is my first Ashes I am following so closely and it seems there is a full fledged war going out there. Liked the article.

Posted by Webba84 on (July 14, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

Hahaha, nicely put Andrew.

Posted by   on (July 14, 2013, 4:59 GMT)

Brilliant. Gentlemen's game cant take rapid change.

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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