July 2, 2008

Whose right of way is it anyway?

Periodic fits of morality do cricket good, and the uproar over the Grant Elliott run-out might well do so, but perhaps not for the reasons that first come to mind
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One of the reasons the run was thought viable was the assumption that Sidebottom would be diverted from fielding the ball by the need to yield Elliott space © Getty Images

Paul Collingwood has been rusticated to a county game for Durham this week for England's tardiness in bowling their overs at the Oval, but many see his punishment as morally condign. A two-player pile-up at The Oval was one thing; extracting a one-wicket benefit quite another. Defeat was embraced with a relief perverse even for the English.

At such times everyone vents their pet peeve, cricket's deteriorating politesse being seen as symptomatic of a deeper malaise - can the WAGS and chavs be far behind? Perhaps Collingwood's lucky to only have been sent as far as Leeds; a couple of hundred years ago he would probably have been sentenced to transportation. On the other hand, perhaps he'd fit right in down here. When Andrew Symonds knocked a spectator senseless last summer, one half-expected a testimonial to be organised in his honour.

Some periodic fits of morality do cricket good, and this one might be the same - but not, perhaps, for the first reasons that come to mind. Concentrate on the initial mishap, which it requires considerable rewinding of replays to absorb fully - an advantage, bear in mind, that Collingwood did not have.

New Zealand's Grant Elliott sets off, stops, restarts, then is inhibited from running wider by his on-rushing partner, and pushed perforce into Ryan Sidebottom's path. Cricket, of course, is full of such contraflows, usually negotiated by a protocol that the batsman has right of way. But nobody knows why or on whose authority - it's not in the Laws - and the protocol is subject to unconscious abuse. One of the reasons the run was viable in the first place was the assumption that Sidebottom would be diverted from fielding the ball by the need to yield Elliott space. "Bugger that," Sidebottom said to himself - and it's hard to blame him.

For, in cricket, the batsman can almost run where he damn well pleases. And it's hard to miss that for years batsmen have been abusing this privilege. You're stretching to make your ground; the ball's on its way - what do you do? If you're a "smart cricketer" - and everyone wants to be one of those - you try to accidentally-on-purpose interpose yourself between the throw and the stumps. Do it successfully, in fact, and the commentators will praise your sagacity.

Not surprisingly, this prerogative of the batsman has become increasingly irksome to bowlers and fielding captains. Bowlers, most conspicuously Glenn McGrath, started insisting on the right to hold the line of their follow-through. Fielding captains, most obviously Steve Waugh, started condoning, if not encouraging, searing returns sent within a micron or two of batsmen's heads. Shaun Pollock and Kevin Pietersen going hip-for-hip at last year's Twenty20 world championship was a harbinger of bigger and worse. Cricketers these days spend more time in gyms, putting on muscle, adding stature, and are naturally more confident of their ability to withstand physical contact, especially under the influence of the headrush of adrenalin.

 
 
The pitch, where traffic has never been regulated, has been allowed to become a disputed zone, with batting and fielding sides asserting rights on the basis of expedience and strength. Perhaps "right of way" needs statutory reinforcement; perhaps the batsmen's running area needs cordoning off
 

"The spirit of cricket"? Under these circumstances it starts elasticising. In the incident at The Oval, Collingwood took advantage of an inadvertent collision between wickets. But this came after a protracted period in which batsmen have taken advantage of the latitude for deliberate obstruction, and cricket's commentariat has winked knowingly at them doing so. Which of these is the more offensive violation? There was a time, furthermore, when umpires might have felt confident enough to impose on the action, to have promptly called "dead ball", and been confident of the acceptance of the players and support of their administrators. But who today wants to be a "brave" umpire?

So what does this episode say about cricket's perceived decadence? A bit; perhaps less than has been assumed. Because it's all about Geoff Boycott, the greatest living Yorkshireman immediately had recourse to a similar incident in his debut Test at Trent Bridge 44 years ago, when with Boycott's partner Fred Titmus prone from a mid-pitch impact with hefty Neil Hawke, Australian keeper Wally Grout refrained from removing the bails: a noble act, to be sure. It seems almost a shame to add Hawke's recollection in his biography: "From the covers came a startled cry, 'I thought this was a bloody Test match'." There's always one, eh? Maybe today there are simply more.

What it might be truer to say is that modern cricketers think more like modern athletes, in straight lines, so that ambiguities are problematic. When their on-field deportment was under challenge five years ago, Steve Waugh's Australians didn't sit around reading Lord Cowdrey's lecture to one another: they drafted a document of their own, headed "The Spirit of Cricket" and signed it. A written "spirit" seemed a bit daft at the time, and views will differ about how rigidly Waugh's countrymen have honoured its terms since, but it does say something about the preferences of modern professionals.

Thus the events of last week: because the pitch, where traffic has never been regulated, has been allowed to become a disputed zone, with batting and fielding sides asserting rights on the basis of expedience and strength. Perhaps "right of way" needs statutory reinforcement; perhaps the batsmen's running area needs cordoning off. Whatever the case, the authorities have been slow to act, leaving players to improvise an ethical response; in some respects it is surprising that what occurred last week was not sooner in coming.

Authorities slow to act: who knew? Sometimes, of course, they can be worse than slow. While Paul Collingwood is pelted in the public pillory, Indian cricket's potentates, in order that they might maintain their ICC gerrymander, lend credibility and shovel cash to the ramshackle, politically compromised, scandal-racked cricket administration of one of the world's ghastliest dictatorships. Reconcile that with the "spirit of cricket" if you can.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • GideonH on July 3, 2008, 8:39 GMT

    An addendum might be in order, given the extreme protectiveness of some readers towards the poor, defenseless, friendless BCCI! Obviously I don't agree that the last paragraph is irrelevant. Indeed, I think there's an area of obvious comparability. Collingwood's appeal at The Oval has been deplored as an act of cynical and unprincipled self-interest at the expense of the game's long-term welfare; there's an argument that the BCCI's stance on Zimbabwe is exactly that. Certainly if Peter Chingoka had not proven himself a useful stooge at the ICC then there would be no pious bleatings from the always-anonymous 'Indian officials' about cricket and politics must not mix' ­ when everyone knows that they can and do. Cricket and politics mixed the moment teams took the field bearing the names of countries they were from. When Australia' met England' in the first Test match, nobody saw it as merely a game involving two XIs: they were embodiments of their generations, and certainly in Australia a measure of national prowess and progress. The game mattered more for that understanding; had it not been so, cricket would hardly have seized the popular imagination.

    Given the benefits that national boards of control derive from the prestige of choosing a team to represent their country, they cannot in the next breath protest that their organisation is 'above politics' and merely in the business of arranging cricket matches. If you rejoice in the honour, you can't abdicate the accompanying responsibility. I suspect, furthermore, that a bit of politics in cricket occasionally does no harm: it prevents cricket sticking its head in the sand and pretending the rest of the world doesn't exist. The pity of the BCCI's position now is that the sub-continent has much to be proud of where its attitude to apartheid South Africa was concerned. In the 1970s and 1980s, England and Australia back-slid constantly on the issue of South Africa's excommunication from international cricket. In the face of some lamentable apologetics about cricket and politics not mixing, India provided moral leadership sorely lacking elsewhere. Why is the BCCI's attitude so different now?

    There is a lot of resentment in India about the long period in which the foundation members' of ICC maintained their anachronistic and anti-democratic veto ­ and quite right too. Yet what is the BCCI's support of Chingoka but the maintenance of a veto by any other name? The BCCI covets a powerful role in the governance of world cricket. Good luck to it - certainly makes great economic sense. All the more reason, though, that it shouldn't delegitimise itself by relying on what long ago ceased to be a body representative of cricket in Zimbabwe and became an arm of ZANU-PF. Of course, this is all just my opinion, to which you're absolutely entitled to disagree. As you do so, perhaps spare a thought for those in Zimbabwe who by disagreement place their lives in jeopardy.

  • vswami on July 3, 2008, 7:40 GMT

    Cricket is probably the first sport I can think of where majority of revenues come from a developing country. Its an interesting situation. Just like China is being deliberately embarassed before its Olympics by a motivated western media campaign, India is going to face a motivated media campaign. If Mr.Haigh were to really do his job of being a "historian" as he calls himself, he will realise that the rules have always been set by those in power. Mr. Sepp Blatter needs the African votes for his survival as FIFA boss, hence sports and politics dont mix. No western country objects to this as they profit from it. Mr. Jacques Rogge needs African votes for his survival as IOC Chief, hence sports and politics dont mix. The western financial interest in cricket is minority now, hence sports and politics mix. When the financial situation was reverse in cricket, sports and politics also did not mix. No country/culture has a monopoly on moral leadership and its best to not point fingers.

  • wildphil on July 3, 2008, 5:49 GMT

    Last night on New Zealand TV former test opener Mark Richardson had no problems with the out decision. Nor do I. If Elliot had run on the left hand side, as we were all taught as youngsters, it would not have happened. Batsmen for years have run in the line of flight between the wickets and the fielder in order to obstruct the throw, all's fair in love, war and cricket. PS - I am from NZ.

  • din7 on July 3, 2008, 4:08 GMT

    Truth is always hard to consume, and therefore i had read some comments by some people who got hurt due to this excellent article from Gideon. He is unarguably right.

  • knockbax on July 3, 2008, 3:20 GMT

    Collingwood was perfectly entitled to uphold his appeal. Definitely a case of the bowler being impeded by the batsman. As the article almost says, it was a cop-out on the umpires part to make Elliott have to walk.

  • wizman on July 3, 2008, 1:48 GMT

    3 points.

    1st is that the article was about the Spirit of Cricket, not the Collingwood/Elliott run out which was a starting point.

    2nd the patriotic Indians want to be top shots but don't seem to want to take the constant criticism of being it, or the responsibility of acting like one.

    3rd it is clear the BCCI are propping up Zim's inclusion as a Full Member of the ICC for their own political purposes, not the benefit of (heavens forbid) cricket.

  • Raghu.M on July 2, 2008, 22:33 GMT

    Too much is made out of this incident. The person in subject who commited the mistake (Paul Collingwood)has accepted it and apolozised. Shouldn't we stop it here and move on. For Mr.Gideon Haigh, I wonder how things have gone over the years, A mistake is a mistake no matter under what circumstances it was commited. One can not blame circumstances for it. Mr.Gideon Haigh, You must have the guts to accept it. Win like a man and loose like a man. In Zimbabwe's case, I strongly feel that politics should be kept away from cricket. ICC can not ban Zimbabwe citing political situation there rather they should try to help the ZC to improve the cricket in the country. What have ZC to do with the political situation in the country. Agreed, they are influenced by the president of the country but they can not go against him. Banning will never solve the problem. Mr.Gideon Haigh, I wonder what has India to do in all this? Why are you so jealous about India becoming dominant in cricket?

  • TheEnticer on July 2, 2008, 19:59 GMT

    So my first comment didn't make the cut... I will give it another try... The last paragraph was completely unnecessary and incendiary. We call this kind of blogger a 'hit and run' blogger, one who sets a fire for publicity or other reasons unrelated to the rest of the article. Lately, I have seen a lot of cricinfo articles unnecessarily take pot-shots at BCCI and Indian cricketers (others have seen this as well). My suggestion to folks here is to ignore Gideon as a rabid rabble rouser who can't accept reality. I suggest cricinfo maintain a neutral tone to their articles and bulletins(which it used to in the good ol' days).

  • ghaski on July 2, 2008, 19:52 GMT

    I think this is a great article, talking about the gray area between rigid regulations and voluntary behavior demanded by civility or spirit. We face this outside the sports area as well. As the stakes get higher, it is tempting cross the line and stay within regulations and try to get away without following unwritten laws. The simple solution as you pointed out is to draw the lines, and write down some of the unwritten laws. This is a practical problem with practical solution, not one of morality. You would change the current dynamics, and add a new (minor) variable to the game. This is how game evolves. Let it evolve in the right direction.

  • PBHshaircut on July 2, 2008, 19:27 GMT

    Can you all remember the furore when back at the beginning of the 70s, John Snow barged Gavaskar in his efforts to pick up a shot from the little man. I think Snow was banned from the next test.

  • GideonH on July 3, 2008, 8:39 GMT

    An addendum might be in order, given the extreme protectiveness of some readers towards the poor, defenseless, friendless BCCI! Obviously I don't agree that the last paragraph is irrelevant. Indeed, I think there's an area of obvious comparability. Collingwood's appeal at The Oval has been deplored as an act of cynical and unprincipled self-interest at the expense of the game's long-term welfare; there's an argument that the BCCI's stance on Zimbabwe is exactly that. Certainly if Peter Chingoka had not proven himself a useful stooge at the ICC then there would be no pious bleatings from the always-anonymous 'Indian officials' about cricket and politics must not mix' ­ when everyone knows that they can and do. Cricket and politics mixed the moment teams took the field bearing the names of countries they were from. When Australia' met England' in the first Test match, nobody saw it as merely a game involving two XIs: they were embodiments of their generations, and certainly in Australia a measure of national prowess and progress. The game mattered more for that understanding; had it not been so, cricket would hardly have seized the popular imagination.

    Given the benefits that national boards of control derive from the prestige of choosing a team to represent their country, they cannot in the next breath protest that their organisation is 'above politics' and merely in the business of arranging cricket matches. If you rejoice in the honour, you can't abdicate the accompanying responsibility. I suspect, furthermore, that a bit of politics in cricket occasionally does no harm: it prevents cricket sticking its head in the sand and pretending the rest of the world doesn't exist. The pity of the BCCI's position now is that the sub-continent has much to be proud of where its attitude to apartheid South Africa was concerned. In the 1970s and 1980s, England and Australia back-slid constantly on the issue of South Africa's excommunication from international cricket. In the face of some lamentable apologetics about cricket and politics not mixing, India provided moral leadership sorely lacking elsewhere. Why is the BCCI's attitude so different now?

    There is a lot of resentment in India about the long period in which the foundation members' of ICC maintained their anachronistic and anti-democratic veto ­ and quite right too. Yet what is the BCCI's support of Chingoka but the maintenance of a veto by any other name? The BCCI covets a powerful role in the governance of world cricket. Good luck to it - certainly makes great economic sense. All the more reason, though, that it shouldn't delegitimise itself by relying on what long ago ceased to be a body representative of cricket in Zimbabwe and became an arm of ZANU-PF. Of course, this is all just my opinion, to which you're absolutely entitled to disagree. As you do so, perhaps spare a thought for those in Zimbabwe who by disagreement place their lives in jeopardy.

  • vswami on July 3, 2008, 7:40 GMT

    Cricket is probably the first sport I can think of where majority of revenues come from a developing country. Its an interesting situation. Just like China is being deliberately embarassed before its Olympics by a motivated western media campaign, India is going to face a motivated media campaign. If Mr.Haigh were to really do his job of being a "historian" as he calls himself, he will realise that the rules have always been set by those in power. Mr. Sepp Blatter needs the African votes for his survival as FIFA boss, hence sports and politics dont mix. No western country objects to this as they profit from it. Mr. Jacques Rogge needs African votes for his survival as IOC Chief, hence sports and politics dont mix. The western financial interest in cricket is minority now, hence sports and politics mix. When the financial situation was reverse in cricket, sports and politics also did not mix. No country/culture has a monopoly on moral leadership and its best to not point fingers.

  • wildphil on July 3, 2008, 5:49 GMT

    Last night on New Zealand TV former test opener Mark Richardson had no problems with the out decision. Nor do I. If Elliot had run on the left hand side, as we were all taught as youngsters, it would not have happened. Batsmen for years have run in the line of flight between the wickets and the fielder in order to obstruct the throw, all's fair in love, war and cricket. PS - I am from NZ.

  • din7 on July 3, 2008, 4:08 GMT

    Truth is always hard to consume, and therefore i had read some comments by some people who got hurt due to this excellent article from Gideon. He is unarguably right.

  • knockbax on July 3, 2008, 3:20 GMT

    Collingwood was perfectly entitled to uphold his appeal. Definitely a case of the bowler being impeded by the batsman. As the article almost says, it was a cop-out on the umpires part to make Elliott have to walk.

  • wizman on July 3, 2008, 1:48 GMT

    3 points.

    1st is that the article was about the Spirit of Cricket, not the Collingwood/Elliott run out which was a starting point.

    2nd the patriotic Indians want to be top shots but don't seem to want to take the constant criticism of being it, or the responsibility of acting like one.

    3rd it is clear the BCCI are propping up Zim's inclusion as a Full Member of the ICC for their own political purposes, not the benefit of (heavens forbid) cricket.

  • Raghu.M on July 2, 2008, 22:33 GMT

    Too much is made out of this incident. The person in subject who commited the mistake (Paul Collingwood)has accepted it and apolozised. Shouldn't we stop it here and move on. For Mr.Gideon Haigh, I wonder how things have gone over the years, A mistake is a mistake no matter under what circumstances it was commited. One can not blame circumstances for it. Mr.Gideon Haigh, You must have the guts to accept it. Win like a man and loose like a man. In Zimbabwe's case, I strongly feel that politics should be kept away from cricket. ICC can not ban Zimbabwe citing political situation there rather they should try to help the ZC to improve the cricket in the country. What have ZC to do with the political situation in the country. Agreed, they are influenced by the president of the country but they can not go against him. Banning will never solve the problem. Mr.Gideon Haigh, I wonder what has India to do in all this? Why are you so jealous about India becoming dominant in cricket?

  • TheEnticer on July 2, 2008, 19:59 GMT

    So my first comment didn't make the cut... I will give it another try... The last paragraph was completely unnecessary and incendiary. We call this kind of blogger a 'hit and run' blogger, one who sets a fire for publicity or other reasons unrelated to the rest of the article. Lately, I have seen a lot of cricinfo articles unnecessarily take pot-shots at BCCI and Indian cricketers (others have seen this as well). My suggestion to folks here is to ignore Gideon as a rabid rabble rouser who can't accept reality. I suggest cricinfo maintain a neutral tone to their articles and bulletins(which it used to in the good ol' days).

  • ghaski on July 2, 2008, 19:52 GMT

    I think this is a great article, talking about the gray area between rigid regulations and voluntary behavior demanded by civility or spirit. We face this outside the sports area as well. As the stakes get higher, it is tempting cross the line and stay within regulations and try to get away without following unwritten laws. The simple solution as you pointed out is to draw the lines, and write down some of the unwritten laws. This is a practical problem with practical solution, not one of morality. You would change the current dynamics, and add a new (minor) variable to the game. This is how game evolves. Let it evolve in the right direction.

  • PBHshaircut on July 2, 2008, 19:27 GMT

    Can you all remember the furore when back at the beginning of the 70s, John Snow barged Gavaskar in his efforts to pick up a shot from the little man. I think Snow was banned from the next test.

  • MKP- on July 2, 2008, 18:42 GMT

    Dont try to complicate the matter. This act certainly was not in the spirit of the game PERIOD

  • Chestnutgrey on July 2, 2008, 17:38 GMT

    Ooh. So Little Gideon does not like the BCCI, eh? What a bunch of crock this article is. Poor Collingwood. Poor Sidebottom. We should consider it lucky that the Englishmen didn't collide with any Indian.

  • Stilettoc on July 2, 2008, 16:34 GMT

    For some time I've harboured a hope that a fielding side might one day appeal for Obstructing The Field when batsmen protect the wicket by changing their running line - usually increasing the distance they have to run to make their ground. It's not "smart cricket", it's cheating. As for incidents like Sidebottom/Elliott/Collingwood, I wish I had as easy a solution. The only good thing to come out of it was (apart from the NZ win) the wonderful initiative of the umpire to ask Collingwood if he wanted to reconsider his appeal. It was a great display of common sense and we should see its like more often.

  • sgd120 on July 2, 2008, 14:09 GMT

    The cheap swipe at the end undid what had otherwise beeen a thought-provoking article, but the shot at the end really makes one wonder how little people understand about people in other parts of the world. The Zimbabwe issue is simple, if the countries accept to 'ban' Zimbabwe due to lack of open and fair elections, how can the ICC justify keeping Pakistan in all these years. I didn't hear Gideon complaining about that, it's not even as though Pakistan are integral to world cricket currently.

  • Av79 on July 2, 2008, 13:52 GMT

    The whole issue is elementary. So long as cricket accepts that a batsman is within his rights to cheat and remain at the wicket when he knows he's out, any argument about the "spirit of cricket" is null and void. Simple. The argument is therefore moot, as the game endorses a win-at-all-costs mentality, to the point where dishonesty is acceptable - albeit mired in double standards.

    As for the incident itself, I'm hardly surprised the moral majority is in favour of the batsman, given the absurdly bastman-friendly orientation of the modern game.

    Since the spirit of cricket is essentially a myth, there's really little to be said on the matter. New Zealand would have upheld the appeal too. Why shouldn't they have? The only uncouth element of the incident in my eyes was the gesticulating from Vettori. Collingwood's a villain for upholding an ambiguous appeal, and Symonds (et al) within their right to knowingly abstruct the justice of the game. Spirit my foot.

  • woodywoodlington on July 2, 2008, 13:47 GMT

    Good grief - why the over-reaction to Gideon's final paragraph? It's completely spot on, as ever, and good for him for calling things straight, unlike the back-slapping, weak ICC. As for King Viv, England were wrong in their approach towards South Africa for far too long, just as India are now wrong towards Zimbabwe, but since when did two wrongs make a right?

  • Parth_Pala on July 2, 2008, 13:21 GMT

    The English media has taken a incident out of, clearly the players have forgiven the incident, and no other cricketing country really cares about the incident anymore including New Zealand. Maybe the English should join the rest of us in moving on? The world doesn't revolve around you, and by taking a back-handed slap at the Indian cricketing fraternity you aren't contributing anything productive. This unfortunately has become an all too common facet of cricinfo in recent times , taking a swipe at the Indians at any given opportunity, whether it makes sense to our not gas gone out the window. Examples include , T20, most series India have played etc etc. It would only serve the journalists to write in an even tone rather than a one that propagates propaganda, otherwise you might give Fox a run for their money.

  • diptanshu on July 2, 2008, 12:22 GMT

    Last few lines about BCCI and Zimbabwe were uncalled for! It is nowhere related to Sidebottom colliding with Elliot and Colly appealing for a run-out. Goes to show deep-rated hatred Gideon has for BCCI and Indian cricketers. Like some have already pointed out, his opinion would have been different had Ganguly and Sreesanth been involved instead of Colly and Sidebottom.

    Wake up, smell the coffee and accept that the gradual shift of power is towards Asia not just in cricket but in world economy. Sooner you accept the fact, your articles will be less biased.

  • Caveman. on July 2, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    So "English" of Gideon Haigh to start on one topic and end with another. :)

    Collingwood is pure as driven snow of course.

  • Sitting-on-a-gate on July 2, 2008, 10:52 GMT

    First comment was not posted. Hit too close home, eh? Will comment again - Will Mr. Haighs opinion change if the people in question were say Sreesanth and Ganguly and not an Englishman?

  • King_Viv on July 2, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    Well said InsideEdge. Gideon you write well but there was absolutely no need to bash the BCCI again. Think about how England acted towards the apartheid Govt of South Africa. It took the whole D'Oliviera affair before anything was done, and we all know that he was originally left out of the touring side to east dimplomatic relations. Whilst I am not condoning the BCCI's actions of Zim, the ECB does not have a perfect track record. Back to the Oval incident. Colly had plenty of time to reverse the decision when Elliott was receiving treatment and during his slow trudge back to the pavillion. A message could even have have been relayed from Peter Moores by way of the 12th man whilst Elliott was undergoing treatment. Luckily for Colly and England, the opposition was lowly NZ. If it was India or Australia, things would have become messy. If it was Pakistan, they would have accused England of racism. Thankfully, NZ won and Vettori was kind enough to brush it under the carpet

  • OliverWebber on July 2, 2008, 10:44 GMT

    A very refreshing article - but I'm curious that no-one has so far mentioned one crucial fact: is "obstructing the field" not a valid means of dismissal? What do the laws say about this? Perhaps it's not appropriate in this case, but either way, it is high time the batsman's responsibilties are also considered: far too much has been said about the behaviour of the fielding team. As others have said, though, it would all have been much easier if the final decision had been left to the umpires!

  • Uncle_Diggs on July 2, 2008, 10:11 GMT

    In many sports, play is stopped immediately if a player is injured such as in soccer where the ball is kicked out. This happens regardless of the state of play and who is at fault. Grant Elliot was knocked down and was injured and as a result I think play should have stopped. It was no-one's fault that it occurred and the English may not have even realised Elliot was injured when the stumps were broken. But when Paul Collingwood was asked whether he wanted to uphold the appeal he knew that Elliot was injured and therefore I think he acted in a manner not only outside the spirit of cricket, but outside the spirit of sport in general.

  • Gazzypops on July 2, 2008, 10:10 GMT

    I think there's a lot of point-of-view potential with this run-out issue until it's laid down in the Laws. And even then there'll be disagreement. Collingwood probably shouldn't have insisted on Elliott going when asked by the umpires. Elliott shouldn't have put himself in (arguably the incorrect position on the pitch) to have such a collision as a real possibility. And the umpires, ultimately, should have had the final say. It was a tight game. The alternative would have been for Sidebottom to get out of the way and allow Elliott through for what was a very risky and quite cheeky run (made more so by the fact the batsman was running into the same space as that occupied by the ball and therefore the fielder). To a certain extent, if you live by the sword you should accept that you may die by it as well. However, 'not out' would have been the most diplomatic result in the first instance, perhaps with a warning to both sides not to deliberately run things so close. One 'strike' and out?

  • VictO on July 2, 2008, 9:36 GMT

    This happens in club games all the time.

    I remember a match against Higham and Mockbeggar (Kent), it rained and the whole area alongside the pitch was very wet. During a run I fell head over heals. H&M had no qualms about running me out even though it was not really in the spirit of the game.

    Its not unusual for team to react the way England did. When Andrew Simmons is blatantly out, does he walk?

  • ashwin_547 on July 2, 2008, 8:31 GMT

    i am just wondering why this is wrong, as a batsman/runner when you are running - it may or may not be ok - but many runners get in the way of the ball while running to protect themselves from being run out. So why exactly is this wrong? Elliot should just watch where he runs!

  • Hadrianus on July 2, 2008, 8:22 GMT

    What a superb article, yet again. The dribbling of those offended by his closing - and extremely apposite - comments should cause discomfort to no-one but their authors.

  • InsideEdge on July 2, 2008, 7:57 GMT

    Another Gideon Haigh article bashing India and BBCI. We will soon reach a point where justified criticism of the BCCI will be drowned out by patriotic reactions from Indians. This is natural when one repeatedly attacks an opponent at every opportunity, even in unrelated incidents, resulting in tedium and unnecessary provocation.

    You'll often see someone like Atherton, a deeply disturbed man who is yet to get over the "dirt in the pocket" saga singing the praises of Mr. Haigh's writings. We are told Gideon is the finest cricket historian. Add one Scyld Berry, and we have a cocktail of deep prejudice that finds its way in both the print and internet media on a regular basis.

    Not a peep from Mr. Haigh on the grotesque Stanford landing at Lords. Or even yet another Ponting dissent incident resulting in a fine. Don't you wish Ganguly was playing right now? Hideous Gideous.

  • AJ_NM on July 2, 2008, 7:39 GMT

    Gideon - trashing the Indians on their 'possible' Zimbabwe stance was unnecessary. Don't talk about 'spirit of cricket' with regards to the Zimbabwe situation, that's a different ballgame altogether.

  • Skitto on July 2, 2008, 7:35 GMT

    Some correspondents seem to think that perpetuating injustice or mismanagement in 2008 is ok because someone else did it 20, 60 or 100 years ago? That England and Australia ran cricket for it's first hundred years as a fiefdom doesn't justify a different organisation doing it today. If conduct is wrong then it is wrong, and saying "They did it first" doesn't make it right.

    The BCCI needs to provide leadership for the future and that means demanding high levels of administrative expertise, accountability, and ethical conduct. Three things that are completely absent in ZC.

  • lamd on July 2, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    It seems that no one misses an opportunity to take a swipe at India. I fail to see the link between Collingwood's 'win at all costs' attitude and the BCCI action on the Zimbabwe crisis. Does Mr Haigh have access to some high quality intelligence not available to others that suggests that Mr Mugabe will relinquish control of power because Zimbabwe is banned from cricket? I suggest that Mr Haigh reads John Traicos recent piece on the same subject. India has a long way to go and even the most ardent supporter of India as a country or its cricket team would admit that. To suggest that being English or Australian gives a person a moral superiority is frankly a concept that needs to be buried. I support the English team and frankly was embarrassed by Collingwood's action.

  • masks on July 2, 2008, 7:26 GMT

    After a great deal of non argument Mr.Haigh comes to the point.My,my how everybody loves to hate India. Though Mr.Haigh doesn't mind a bit of the Indian Dollar for himself.Cricinfo is,unless I am mistaken,now Indian owned and Mr.Haigh is conceivably receiving some renumeration for his piece.After all Mr.Haigh,you Australians do love Indian money...no?..please ask Symonds,Ponting,Gilly et all.

  • NumberXI on July 2, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    There was once a writer named Gideon, Who, it seems, was bidden, by some unknown powers above, or his own perceptions hollow, that all the ills of sport of cricket, all failures to observe etiquette, were caused by the nation of Indians, even where they had no presence. And there was the nation called Zim, which, it appeared, like all Brits to him, to be an ugly wart, for reasons more politic than sport, and so he deigned to complain about it, while caring nary the slightest bit, that the nation still played at FIFA's soccer, or so claims their main talker, but all these are merely theories vague, to everyone's painful Mr Haigh!

  • Abagshaw on July 2, 2008, 7:12 GMT

    In view of Law 37, which states that a batsman can be given out for obstructing the field, I would argue that the bowler/fielder does have right of way over the batsman, provided he is attempting to field the ball. I believe Elliot's obstruction was accidental, so not deserving of dismissal under the laws. In support of Collingwood, however, he did ask Sidebottom if his intention was purely to go for the ball before making the appeal. I would also like to add that in indoor cricket as I have played it, in which fielders stand close on either side of the batsman, the situation is quite common, and it is understood that fielders are actually allowed to time their movement to pick up the ball so as to block the batsman from taking a run. The opportunity for this is of course extremely rare in outdoor cricket, but Elliot could have avoided it by running up the opposite side of the wicket from Mills, which as all cricketers know is the normal course.

  • Ajay42 on July 2, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    I think rnarayan hits the nail on the head here, with the football analogy.You simply do not run a batsman out when he has been knocked down by one of your players, whosever fault it might be. Of course, Zim is India's fault. Everything is India's fault, including global warming.While nobody can condone the ghastly Mugabe and we all grant that the BCCI is a callous, uncaring, power hungry administrator, do remember that the ECB has taken it's own sweet time to wake up and we all know the reason why. While you are at it, Mr Haigh, why dont you try and get the USA banned from the Olympics for waging war on half the world? For that matter, get Zim banned from the Olympics, first...we shall see about cricket later.

  • Davesh_cricket_analyst on July 2, 2008, 6:49 GMT

    Blaming Indian cricket's potentates for the Zimbabwe is atrocious. If you think Zimbabwe should be banned from playing cricket because of the Mugabe's dictatorship then England shouldn't have been playing cricket in the first place. How's Mugabe dictatorship dissimilar to Colonial rule over a country like say India till 1947 ? I understand that its not the right forum to discuss politics but then that's what Mr. Haigh is doing. Give a break. Weren't the English & Australian cricket administrators potentates till 1991 until India stepped in then as big power in cricket? Would you please tell how many ICC's chiefs we had from countries other than England & Australia till 1991 ? none.

  • rnarayan on July 2, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    I think you miss the point to dome extent, Mr Haigh. It is similar to a football player kicking the ball out of play when an opponent is (possibly) injured.It is not legislated for, but a convention that should be honored. If it becomes the acceptable to run batsman out in such instances, it is a short step to a bowler up-ending a batsman "accidentally-on-purpose" and running him out.Or just bumping into him on general principles to shake him up (remember Snow/Gavaskar?).It should not be necessary to have a law for every eventuality. And what on earth has this got to do with Zimbabwe? While the Zim cricket set up stinks, perhaps we should bypass the Indian potentates, and get Colly and Sidebottom to get Mugabe out

  • vswami on July 2, 2008, 6:07 GMT

    I was wondering at which point is India going to get bashed in an article about a run-out incident 8000 miles away, and I was almost disappointed until I read the last line. Well done.

  • meyelost on July 2, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    A well written article, but i do have to say dude, leave it to the English to make issues more dramatic than they are. First it was the apparently 'genius' switch-hitting for Pieterson and now a nonsense issue of a run-out. In the end all you guys do is blame the administrators for not coming up with laws for such trifle things. In the end the comment about Zimbabwe was unnecessary.

  • solomonlaw on July 2, 2008, 5:13 GMT

    The only reason that Elliot thought a run was viable was not because of Sidebottoms need to give way, but the fact that Kyle Mills was already half way down the pitch. The notion that in the heat of the moment (when New Zealand were panicking and running for every thing)that kyle Mills evaluated what line Grant Elliot and Sidebottom were running and adjudged a run accordingly is laughable (I don't think kyle has a degree in physics let alone chaos theory. if anything Elliot made more of an attempt to run around Sidebottom than to protect the ball. Sidebottom just tried to run through him and could have potentially still run him out without contacting him. Both captains have apologized for their behavior, maybe we should just give umpires the ability to call dead ball in the instance of such a collision then we can all just get on with the game.

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  • solomonlaw on July 2, 2008, 5:13 GMT

    The only reason that Elliot thought a run was viable was not because of Sidebottoms need to give way, but the fact that Kyle Mills was already half way down the pitch. The notion that in the heat of the moment (when New Zealand were panicking and running for every thing)that kyle Mills evaluated what line Grant Elliot and Sidebottom were running and adjudged a run accordingly is laughable (I don't think kyle has a degree in physics let alone chaos theory. if anything Elliot made more of an attempt to run around Sidebottom than to protect the ball. Sidebottom just tried to run through him and could have potentially still run him out without contacting him. Both captains have apologized for their behavior, maybe we should just give umpires the ability to call dead ball in the instance of such a collision then we can all just get on with the game.

  • meyelost on July 2, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    A well written article, but i do have to say dude, leave it to the English to make issues more dramatic than they are. First it was the apparently 'genius' switch-hitting for Pieterson and now a nonsense issue of a run-out. In the end all you guys do is blame the administrators for not coming up with laws for such trifle things. In the end the comment about Zimbabwe was unnecessary.

  • vswami on July 2, 2008, 6:07 GMT

    I was wondering at which point is India going to get bashed in an article about a run-out incident 8000 miles away, and I was almost disappointed until I read the last line. Well done.

  • rnarayan on July 2, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    I think you miss the point to dome extent, Mr Haigh. It is similar to a football player kicking the ball out of play when an opponent is (possibly) injured.It is not legislated for, but a convention that should be honored. If it becomes the acceptable to run batsman out in such instances, it is a short step to a bowler up-ending a batsman "accidentally-on-purpose" and running him out.Or just bumping into him on general principles to shake him up (remember Snow/Gavaskar?).It should not be necessary to have a law for every eventuality. And what on earth has this got to do with Zimbabwe? While the Zim cricket set up stinks, perhaps we should bypass the Indian potentates, and get Colly and Sidebottom to get Mugabe out

  • Davesh_cricket_analyst on July 2, 2008, 6:49 GMT

    Blaming Indian cricket's potentates for the Zimbabwe is atrocious. If you think Zimbabwe should be banned from playing cricket because of the Mugabe's dictatorship then England shouldn't have been playing cricket in the first place. How's Mugabe dictatorship dissimilar to Colonial rule over a country like say India till 1947 ? I understand that its not the right forum to discuss politics but then that's what Mr. Haigh is doing. Give a break. Weren't the English & Australian cricket administrators potentates till 1991 until India stepped in then as big power in cricket? Would you please tell how many ICC's chiefs we had from countries other than England & Australia till 1991 ? none.

  • Ajay42 on July 2, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    I think rnarayan hits the nail on the head here, with the football analogy.You simply do not run a batsman out when he has been knocked down by one of your players, whosever fault it might be. Of course, Zim is India's fault. Everything is India's fault, including global warming.While nobody can condone the ghastly Mugabe and we all grant that the BCCI is a callous, uncaring, power hungry administrator, do remember that the ECB has taken it's own sweet time to wake up and we all know the reason why. While you are at it, Mr Haigh, why dont you try and get the USA banned from the Olympics for waging war on half the world? For that matter, get Zim banned from the Olympics, first...we shall see about cricket later.

  • Abagshaw on July 2, 2008, 7:12 GMT

    In view of Law 37, which states that a batsman can be given out for obstructing the field, I would argue that the bowler/fielder does have right of way over the batsman, provided he is attempting to field the ball. I believe Elliot's obstruction was accidental, so not deserving of dismissal under the laws. In support of Collingwood, however, he did ask Sidebottom if his intention was purely to go for the ball before making the appeal. I would also like to add that in indoor cricket as I have played it, in which fielders stand close on either side of the batsman, the situation is quite common, and it is understood that fielders are actually allowed to time their movement to pick up the ball so as to block the batsman from taking a run. The opportunity for this is of course extremely rare in outdoor cricket, but Elliot could have avoided it by running up the opposite side of the wicket from Mills, which as all cricketers know is the normal course.

  • NumberXI on July 2, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    There was once a writer named Gideon, Who, it seems, was bidden, by some unknown powers above, or his own perceptions hollow, that all the ills of sport of cricket, all failures to observe etiquette, were caused by the nation of Indians, even where they had no presence. And there was the nation called Zim, which, it appeared, like all Brits to him, to be an ugly wart, for reasons more politic than sport, and so he deigned to complain about it, while caring nary the slightest bit, that the nation still played at FIFA's soccer, or so claims their main talker, but all these are merely theories vague, to everyone's painful Mr Haigh!

  • masks on July 2, 2008, 7:26 GMT

    After a great deal of non argument Mr.Haigh comes to the point.My,my how everybody loves to hate India. Though Mr.Haigh doesn't mind a bit of the Indian Dollar for himself.Cricinfo is,unless I am mistaken,now Indian owned and Mr.Haigh is conceivably receiving some renumeration for his piece.After all Mr.Haigh,you Australians do love Indian money...no?..please ask Symonds,Ponting,Gilly et all.

  • lamd on July 2, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    It seems that no one misses an opportunity to take a swipe at India. I fail to see the link between Collingwood's 'win at all costs' attitude and the BCCI action on the Zimbabwe crisis. Does Mr Haigh have access to some high quality intelligence not available to others that suggests that Mr Mugabe will relinquish control of power because Zimbabwe is banned from cricket? I suggest that Mr Haigh reads John Traicos recent piece on the same subject. India has a long way to go and even the most ardent supporter of India as a country or its cricket team would admit that. To suggest that being English or Australian gives a person a moral superiority is frankly a concept that needs to be buried. I support the English team and frankly was embarrassed by Collingwood's action.