Aakash Chopra
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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Why bring the spirit of the game into it?

When India appealed for run-out against a non-striker who was backing up, and against a batsman who touched the ball with his hand, they were following the laws. How can that be morally wrong?

Aakash Chopra

March 8, 2012

Comments: 66 | Text size: A | A

Virender Sehwag withdrew R Ashwin's appeal for a run-out against Lahiru Thirimanne, who was backing up too far at the non-striker's end before the bowler delivered the ball, India v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Brisbane, February 21, 2012
The umpires' duty is to give a decision on an appeal and not to ask the captain if he'd like to reconsider the appeal © Getty Images

Many greats of the sport have called "mankading" shameful and petty, yet it continues to happen every now and then, sparking outrage and highlighting a conflict between cricket's laws and its ethical code. The world of cricket seems to be divided on this. The likes of Ian Chappell believe stupidity must be punished and that there should be no moral obligation to make allowances for it whatsoever. Then there are those who insist upon a cricket conscience.

Let's face it - there is no sport without its spirit, and equally there's no sport without its laws. So how does one decide between the two? Should Law 38 of the Laws of Cricket be followed to the letter, or should it be sacrificed on moral grounds?

Let's take the case of R Ashwin running out Lahiru Thirimanne, the most recent such dismissal. Thirimanne was backing up too far, and Ashwin, it is believed, had already cautioned him. Thirimanne didn't pay heed, and therefore chose to act at his own risk in spite of knowing the law. According to the rule, Ashwin could have dismissed Thirimanne immediately, without giving him prior notice, but he complied with the standards of fair play and sportsmanship and warned Thirimanne of his transgression before finally removing the bails. Such a dismissal, which ought to have been a simple umpiring decision, snowballed into a controversy, and worse, a moral debate.

Let's take the onus of safeguarding ethics away from the bowler alone. A batsman who chooses to back up before the ball is bowled is actually attempting to gain an unfair advantage by reducing the length of the pitch for a quick run. Shouldn't he be penalised for flouting the rules and, in fact, cheating?

On the contrary, however, Ashwin's appeal seemed immoral to many. The umpires got together and asked Virender Sehwag, the stand-in captain, to reconsider the appeal, following which the Indians withdrew the it, everyone went home happy, and the team got a pat on the back for honouring the "spirit of the game".

The vexing questions, though, remained unanswered. Shouldn't abiding by the rules be part of the spirit of the game? The lawmakers clearly foresaw batsmen taking unfair advantage repeatedly and so created the law in question. Shouldn't the rulebook be followed to eliminate doubts or biases? In any case, since when did umpires start questioning players' morals, or asking them to abandon a portion of the law in the name of spirit?

When Kapil Dev mankaded Peter Kirsten, he was painted as a villain. Though Kapil had warned Kirsten more than once before he ran him out, it was enough that he was on the wrong side of the "spirit of the game" for him to be crucified. What is baffling is that those who choose to take the moral high ground over mankading hardly ever scrutinise the batsmen involved.

The iniquity attached to such dismissals forced India to overlook Thirimanne's repeated advances up the pitch. And they knew the world would be up in arms had Thirimanne been given out mankaded. This is worrying in itself. Why did India have to worry about moral disapproval? They didn't cheat, fix matches or sledge.

Last summer at Trent Bridge during the England-India series, Ian Bell walked off for tea believing that an Eoin Morgan shot off the final ball of the over had gone for four. However, the ball had actually remained active, and as Bell headed for the pavilion, MS Dhoni removed the bails. Technically Bell was out of his ground and hence could be dismissed. This time it wasn't the umpires but the opposition captain and coach reportedly who requested Dhoni to withdraw his appeal. Bell himself later confessed he had been a bit "stupid". So why call the punishment for a stupid error "bad cricket" or "poor spirit"?

Isn't refusing to walk after nicking the ball, or appealing when you know the batsman isn't out more unethical than mankading? Yet we conveniently treat the former two as a part of today's "cricketing culture", but mankading is considered a crime

In another recent incident, David Hussey, during a tense CB Series match at the SCG, stopped the fielder's incoming throw with an outstretched hand while taking a tight single. The Indians rightly appealed and the on-field umpires referred the matter upstairs. The rulebook says that if a batsman uses his hand to stop the ball from hitting his body, he cannot be given out, but if it is done to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps, the batsman is undoubtedly out. How was the third umpire in this case supposed to judge what Hussey meant to do, considering he was a fair way from the stumps?

Later in that match, when Brett Lee was in the way of Sachin Tendulkar as he tried to complete a run, the batsman lost momentum and a few precious seconds and was run out. The umpires thought Lee had gone towards the ball in order to field it and didn't seem to have purposely blocked Tendulkar's path, so the decision went in the fielding team's favour. Once again, how does one decide what Lee's intentions were? Going by the same moral yardstick as in the Thirimanne run-out, shouldn't Lee have been asked to reconsider his appeal, since it was, after all, not in the "right spirit"?

Who decides what falls within the purview of the spirit of the game, and how are those decisions arrived at? Most importantly, who are we to judge someone's morality based on our own, often warped and somewhat flexible, sense of ethics?

Isn't refusing to walk after nicking the ball, or appealing when you know the batsman isn't out, more unethical than mankading? Yet we conveniently treat the former two as a part of today's "cricketing culture", but mankading is considered a crime.

The roots of these so-called ethics took hold many years ago. Cricket was never a fair or equal sport. Till the 1960s it was played in England between rich "amateurs" and poor "professionals". The amateurs, men of wealth and standing, laid down the rules - to suit themselves, naturally. Amateurs and professionals, though they played for the same teams, didn't share the same dressing rooms. Professionals were mostly brought in to bowl; batting was the amateurs' prerogative.

WG Grace's act of setting the stumps back upright after he was bowled once, and telling the umpire that the crowd had come to watch him bat is now a part of cricketing folklore. It wasn't fair but it was still thought of as cricket.

Laws were introduced later to make the sport more egalitarian, and these have, over the years, made cricket fairer than it ever was. However, we still seem a bit vague on the issues of legality and ethics. Accepting the umpire's decision, no matter what, used to be a sacrosanct rules of cricket. But the advent of DRS allows a player to challenge those decisions too. Isn't that immoral? Against the spirit?

In the past a batsman could request a substitute runner in case he was injured, and usually the request was granted. But the new rules clearly state that regardless of the nature of the injury (including external injury) a batsman will not be given a substitute runner. Obviously somewhere along the line the lawmakers have grown to mistrust players. However, this does not seem to apply in cases like handling the ball and obstructing a batsman, where the umpires are asked to judge players' intentions.

Once Ashwin made that appeal, the umpires had no business to ask Sehwag if he wanted to uphold it, which was well within the law, because by doing so they put him under moral scrutiny. Ashwin was playing by the book by appealing, and everyone, players, umpires, fans, must accept it and move on. Once Hussey's dismissal was referred upstairs, the third umpire should have been asked only to judge the evidence, and not Hussey's intentions. If Hussey wasn't found guilty of obstructing the field, how can a batsman who fends bouncers off with his hand be deemed guilty of handling the ball? (Law 33 allows the batsman to use his hand in self-defence.) What precedent are we setting?

We may want to laud players for their ethics because of our own conditioning and sense of fair play, but let's not make someone a villain if he chooses to do otherwise. Following the rules cannot, by any means, be considered as being against the spirit of the game.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by GVR1965 on (March 10, 2012, 16:57 GMT)

Its simple- a law which is not practiced is perceived as unfair. Then why do you have the law! Change it to suit the game and spirit of the game. If a non-striker is getting the advantage citing the spirit of the game- why not a striker also get the same treatment- a wicket keeper can warn him before stumping, a runner can be warned for not reaching the line! If you need to avoid the controversies - the concerned authorities only have to change the law- Since, from generations, if a law is not practiced then, naturally it should be changed. If the law is not changed, it only leads to endless debates after every attempt on mankading!

Posted by jever03 on (March 9, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

Mankading is as fair as backing up. As a German I always wondered why it's not done more often as it is an attractive addition to the sport and keeps batsman on their toes.

Posted by soumyas on (March 9, 2012, 14:47 GMT)

Indians shouldn't give any chances to Srilankan's as spirit of the game, because we know that how bad ppl they are, Indian's should not forget how they denied a century for Sehwag by bowling a NO-BALL. when only 1 run needed for his century and to win. had that incident happened just before murali's 800th wicket we had a gr8 chances to make murali stranded on numb. 799. Even though i like murali but thats how u teach lessons to cunning ppl.

Posted by PureTom on (March 9, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

I agree with the sentiment that by asking Sehwag to consider the appeal the umpires were implying that they (and therefore everyone else) did not approve of the appeal and forced his desicion. My personal feeling is that, once the ball is live, if you are caught outside your crease you are out, simple. Them's the rules, why should batsmen be allowed to cheat? I do agree with the idea of a warning first, but don't feel it should be mandatory. Thiramane was out. Tendulkar was out, seen this often enough before not to get upset about it anymore, it's more of an issue here only because it was SRT. Hussey was out, wear it or avoid it, don't play it! Nice piece, I really enjoyed it.

Posted by RogerC on (March 9, 2012, 12:18 GMT)

When a batsman hits a great straight drive and if it accidentally hits a part of the bowler's body and dismisses the non-striker who is out of the crease, nobody considers that unsporting. Though this is a completely accidental dismissal, both teams accept it. Compared to that Mankading is a genuine dismissal to punish a risk-taking batsman. Mankading is just like a stumping dismissal, effected at the bowler's end. Its time ICC give it a proper name and legalise it.

Posted by sweetspot on (March 9, 2012, 11:57 GMT)

Ashwin was perfectly right in running out the batsman like he did. In the scoreboard it would have shown "run out" and nothing else. Totally professional, now that the rules have changed and Ashwin is a sharp young man who is aware of it. Who was Thirimanne trying to fool? He did not venture out again, ONLY against Ashwin. So he knew he was pushing it, the rascal! As for Sehwag, he explained it perfectly, "We are soft, but that is who we are"! If Ganguly had been the captain, would he have stood for a moment listening to this spirit of the game nonsense when the law clearly states the batsman is out? I don't think so. He would have told the umpires to not waste his time or Ashwin's by asking these dumb questions. Kudos to all for doing what they thought was right! All except cheeky Thirimanne that is!

Posted by afzalz on (March 9, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

In addition to my previous comment, I cant help but think all these issues are blown out of proportion and made to look as if a major issue as in this article, because it involves the so called "Team India". I take your bet, if this involved a Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka for that matter, it would have been swept under the carpet as it would have been nothing but a minor incident.

Posted by WalkSchmalk on (March 9, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

Aakash, you've completely missed the point of the umpires asking Sehwag to reconsider Ashwin's appeal. They were using their own good judgement to suggest that were the appeal for Mankad been upheld, the Indian team's reputation would have taken a hit. They were essentially giving Sehwag the opportunity to consider whether he wanted to create an incident or be seen to be conciliatory. Sehwag's judgement was good and the process worked perfectly. Right or wrong, Mankading is deemed to be unsporting and the umpires' actions allowed Sehwag time to consider how it would pan out. Great umpiring. Tendulkar and Hussey were out although I suspect neither Lee nor Hussey had bad intentions.

Posted by Thommo44 on (March 9, 2012, 4:36 GMT)

Well written Aakash .. I mourned Peter Roebuck's passing but your articles have certainly gone a long way towards filling that void...on a lighter note...restrict your 'spanking' to willow on leather please!

Posted by insightfulcricketer on (March 9, 2012, 2:29 GMT)

Cricketers play in a professional age. Lee was out of line he came and stood in the way of on-rushing batsman and was not even part of the play. Batsman had to get the advantage.Simple. Hussey had no business to look at the ball but at the crease where he had to reach.Then to fend it away.Out simple. Thirmanne was backing up with bowler in motion and was out of the crease. He was out plain and simple. BCCI has to ensure that ICC is run by people who treat cricketers as professionals and the game is not treated like a pickup game played by amateurs who have 3 jobs and thus absent mindedness can be condoned.I may condone during a pickup game and take pity at the player but not when playing among professionals. Player makes a mistake he is out.Keep the game pure and simple.

Posted by segga-express on (March 9, 2012, 1:22 GMT)

@Arvin Pai - I am well aware of the change to the laws but many other people don't seem to know about the change to Law 42(15) Bowler attempting to run out non-striker before delivery: The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon possible. That is how the law reads. Appendix D states the delivery stride is the stride during which the delivery swing is made, whether the ball is released or not. It starts when the bowler's back foot lands for that stride and ends when the front foot lands in the same stride. Ashwin's back foot had landed so his attempted run out was unlwaful.

Posted by sifter132 on (March 8, 2012, 21:38 GMT)

"How can that be morally wrong?" It can't be...but your point about Brett Lee is way off. It's not Lee's fault at all, Tendulkar started to run inside Lee then realised he needed to be outside him. That's Tendulkar's poor judgement, not Lee's fault. He didn't even know he had got in Tendulkar's way - why should he rescind his appeal in that case? This article is a poorly timed one, it smacks of needing some more India related content, and it's similar to what BCCI usually does: accuse other countries of not judging India fairly. If you wanted to write this article - how about 2 weeks ago, when the stuff actually happened? Now it jut looks like sour grapes which is a shame, because India was in the right here! Apart from Lee vs Tendulkar...

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 20:47 GMT)

Excellent Article, Well Written.

Posted by appy1111 on (March 8, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

@ Naveen Kumar..

MY REPLIES FOR YOUR (A) and (D) point.

A) havent you heard of words call "RISK" --> "MISFIELD" --> "LUCK" B) nno batsmen can dive if there is a bowler standing in front of him.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Heres the question guys: If the Indian team captain at the time felt that his players were correct in appealing for the dismissal, then he should have told the umpires to get stuffed.

There are two issues here: were the umpires acting in the spirit of the game vs the laws of cricket? I would think they favoured the spirit of the game. Be that correct or incorrect, I am not sure. Personally, I prefer the game be played according to the rules. However, the final decision rested with the stand in captain at the time, and he chose to withdraw the appeal. Therefore the question is, why did he do it, clearly it seems that Sehwag believed more in the spirit of the game outweighing a rather harsh law. I think the important thing to remember are that these are grown adults capable of playing the game well when they chose to and if they decide to give a fellow sportsmen a break, its their call. It certainly made you realise the human aspect to this great game.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 19:00 GMT)

@segga-express Have you read the rules? The rules changed recently, so stop teaching others.

Posted by eoinsmith001 on (March 8, 2012, 18:26 GMT)

Cricket is a batsman's game, that's the fundamental point.

Posted by segga-express on (March 8, 2012, 18:04 GMT)

The point I'm making is the umpires made the correct decision by the incorrect means. They shouldn't have consulted Sehwag at all. They should have said 'Not Out' and moved on. Had Ashwin not entered his delivery stride when he removed the bails they should have immediately given it out and not asked for the appeal to be withdrawn.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 17:41 GMT)

With regards to the Hussey incident: It is very hard to come up with a rule that doesn't require the umpire to judge the intentions of either the batsman or the bowler. If you were to simply state that a batsman is not allowed to block the ball in any circumstance, the fielders could just start throwing the ball at the batsmen to get them out, turning cricket into a form of dodgeball!

Posted by TwitterJitter on (March 8, 2012, 17:38 GMT)

@Don_Simon - Umpires should be judging if a player is out based on rule books - not if it is SRT or how Indian supporters will react etc. Supporters will always react the way they do but umpires should not be going by touchy feelings but by the rule book. Thirimanne was out by all means.Hussey and SRT cases are little sketchy as it is based on intent and rules are not clear.

Posted by samiyabath on (March 8, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

Without going into the merits of the argument - this simply has to be one of the better written articles from Akash! Made good reading....

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

This is 100% right. I support this article.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 17:02 GMT)

one thing is for sure that if india does anything it is against the spirit but if other teams like Oz or english do that then they are forgiven as they take the shelter of rules

Posted by bkrish on (March 8, 2012, 16:55 GMT)

Spot on - Akash ! Not saying this just because Indians were on the receiving end - but my point is that any game must be played as per rules framed, and since there are umpires present to enforce these rules there should never be a question of asking the fielding captain to withdraw the appeal.

As a matter of fact I'm of the opinion that even the requirement of an "appeal" by the fielding team should be removed from the lawbooks, ruling whether a batsman is out or not should be left to the umpires - regardless of whether the fielding team appeals or not.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 15:55 GMT)

Absolutely correct. I agree with Akash and wonder when ICC and high priests of Cricket leave hippocracy behind and make it easy, unified and simple for every to follow. All that bickering about BCCI's stand on DRS system, and I was one of them too, proved to be pointless since diffrent interpretation of a cricket law for diffrent country still exists. It surprises me when a third umpire, who has all the time and technology at his disposal, gives a wrong decision.

Posted by Wismay on (March 8, 2012, 15:30 GMT)

@Imz25 Yes. Wheather it is SRT or any other batsman, if he is out according to the Cricket laws, he is out! Why are you bringing SRT?

Posted by Chetantg_87 on (March 8, 2012, 15:26 GMT)

@Segga-express - If what you are saying is correct, then the umpires should have given 'not-out' right away. There was no need to consult Sehwag, right? The fact that the umpires asked Sehwag to reconsider his appeal definitely shows that he Thirimanne was indeed out.

Posted by Wismay on (March 8, 2012, 15:23 GMT)

@ segga-express Then umpires should have given 'NOT OUT' simple. Why umpire asks fielding side to reconsider the appeal? Do umpires do so for lbw appeal also? Funny!

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

Truly amazing article aakash...The recent incidents r pushing all to conclude tat all morals,ethics,fair play and wat evr XYZ... shall apply only to Indian team and australia and england are authoritatively exempted from these meaningless words..If pointed fingers at them safest reply wud be "BCCI opposes DRS".wat can u say when they want DRS to even count nos of balls bowled in an over (Malinga's 5ball ovr which eluded our team from place in finals)..will there be an end to all these differential attitude of so called professional body ICC....

Posted by drvvs on (March 8, 2012, 14:13 GMT)

good one mr. chopra...excellent writing...

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

All the three incidents of this series, Thirimanne Mankading, Tendulkar-Lee fiasco, Dave Hussey Obstructing fielder....all three were blatant examples of poor umpiring.....

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

all these are highly valid points and this act brings great respect for the writer...but it is not just the respect that was intended to be earned from this article ,but a change ,a revolution which needs to be brought about to make way for a leveled playing field...at the end of the day what ever has been described above has become past...but these words describing the past incident must create HISTORY,and that is all we can hope for..::))

Posted by ooper_cut on (March 8, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Fantastic article Chopra, very well written too. Cheers

Posted by Chris_P on (March 8, 2012, 11:30 GMT)

Good analysis, indeed. The only thing I query was your statement about umpires having no right asking Captain's to withdraw appeals. That is something that is taught to umpires, (well here anyway) to always ask in order to try to divert a potential nasty incident. It always works, and gives heated heads a chance to coll down & reconsider.

Posted by A.Ak on (March 8, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

Thats why Australia is so dominant, and England always talking only about others. I mean, its all because, they decide to go for spirit of cricket OR rules only when it benefits their team and not their opposition.

Posted by abhi_cricinfo on (March 8, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

@Imz25 : you expect a guy who is playing at international arena for 22 yrs to forget or break rules of cricket , then good luck mate .

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 7:07 GMT)

Outstanding article. I am in total agreeance.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 6:58 GMT)

can anyone publish it in Herald sun i bet u can't because..........

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (March 8, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

So until they were actually outlawed bowling beamers was perfectly fine?

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

very good article. All the bad decisions are coming to Indian only.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (March 8, 2012, 6:10 GMT)

The situation with mankadding is simple. It seems fairly universal that bowlers warn a batsman first. I have seen many a bowler stop and hold the ball near the stumps to show the non-striker that he could have been run out and any batsman with any sense will make sure it doesn't happen again. In the recent case, it seems that the batsman didn't heed the original warning or even the more blatant warning when he was actually legally run out. He was flouting the laws to gain an advantage so he deserved to be out. Batsman handling the ball is a bit different. When facing a bouncer you can hit it or avoid it. David Hussey would be in the same trouble if he'd used his bat or more as it would have appeared more intentional and less reflex. If he had tried to avoid the ball then he risked being caught short of the crease as a result. I have no issue with India appealing in either case but Thirimanne should have been out and Hussey should not. I'm an England fan so there's no bias either.

Posted by srivatsacertain on (March 8, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Very well said Aakash! True that!

Posted by Captain_Crick on (March 8, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

The observations are spot on. Following the rules of the game should be the spirit of the game. 'Mankading' a batsman or 'Ian Belling' oneself all amounts to a batsman's stupidity of leaving the crease with his own assumptions. The batsman in all fairness should be punished for his mistake.

Posted by klkrafik on (March 8, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

Good ONE..................................................

Posted by JohnnyRook on (March 8, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

I think cricket has too many hypocrisies. Not walking after nicking, signalling bat to umpire while running to avoid LBW is okay but mankading is unethical. Similarly appealing while knowing batsman din't nick it is fine but appealing for a bump catch is immoral. I don't know if Lee was aware of Tendulkar's position or not but I am sure very soon captains are gonna soon keep forward short leg/silly point/silly mid on just to interfere with batsman's path because it is a lot easier way to get batsman runout and there is no way anybody will know whether it was intentional or not.

Posted by yoogi on (March 8, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

The killer instint, wanting to win at any cost is lost on this team, that was evident when they decided not to chase WI target on the test macth to secure the series 1-0 instead of 2-0. Actually, the team needs to be told to be wanting victory at any cost, given everything remains within the rule. Be it bell incident, or the SL batsman, they must keep persisting with their appeal, because that's the only way team could press for a win and even try to decimate the opposition. In that process, if they can irritate the opponents that's even better. Two goals in one ball. Thats precisely what Aus would have done. (like claiming low catches with fielders word for granted.)

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

Hi Aakash I agree with you regarding Mankading. However Sachin tendulkar's Runout!! I seriously dont agree . Because a) There was No Run b) Bret Lee clearly was on his follow up and going towards the Ball c) This is an Issue now as the batsman was Sachin Tendulkar!! d) Tendulkar cannot Dive !! Lastly This isn't controversial at all and should not be compared to all the other dismissals mentioned above.

Posted by Imz25 on (March 8, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

Okay, so, would it be the same if SRT was the non-striker and he got mankaded, Akash?

Posted by santanuXI on (March 8, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

Someone is talking sense finally in this site. Just because Indians were playing badly everything they were doing was being labelled as 'against the spirit' of cricket. Mahela Jayawardene/ Michael Clarke would not find fault if the batsmen back up too much but if the opponent bowler removes the bail, they find that against the 'spirit of cricket'. And everyone, particularly in this site, find them as true sportsman. Even when I posted some comments against that, the website did not find that appropriate for publishing. The judgment applied by the umpires also made mockery of the existing rules while making decisions against the Indians (in the cases mentioned by Akash) and often we hear from this website that India, through its moneypower is controlling everything. If the cricket administrators continue to think that way the game will be the ultimate looser. Indian cricket has many pitfalls which led to their downfall but Indians were not certainly at fault in these cases.

Posted by ram_sachin on (March 8, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

Amazing Read this !! Enjoyedevery moment of this.. True to fact that we cannot distinguish between spirit of the game and the laws of the game, its just one's perception how we look at the situation. If we say we should follow by the laws of the game, then when will the spirit of the game show up ?

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

Spot on. You hit it dead on Cannot agree more.

Posted by Sakthiivel on (March 8, 2012, 4:46 GMT)

Ashwin was correct and Umpire should have give out straight way not putting pressure on the Sehwag.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

nicely put.... they clearly got it wrong with the ashwin nd hussey incidents.... i mean it's very very simple... how is it fair for the non-striker to gain a couple of inches even before the bowler has bowled?????

Posted by Unifex on (March 8, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

I agree with Mr Chopra that mankadding, particularly following warnings, is entirely fair and prevents batsmen taking illegal advantage. I thought Ashwin was right, both in terms of removing an opposition player and in moral terms. As for the Hussey incident, it seemed to me at the time that it was a question of interpretation, which came down on Hussey's side; it had to come down on someone's. What upset me was the reaction of the Indian players afterwards, when they surrounded the umpires in an angry huddle, making it look like they were attempting to intimidate them into changing their decision. That, in my opinion, was outside the spirit of the game: it is the behaviour we associate with loutish footballers, not cricketers.

Posted by gururajan23 on (March 8, 2012, 3:55 GMT)

Agreed on all counts - if following law is against spirit of the game, then change the law or change the spirit. weak on sehwag and dhoni to withdraw the appeal - he is more worried abt public opinion than winning the game.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

Excellent article and I totally agree with the writer's views. There is a grey area in cricket where abiding by the rules of cricket is considered as unethical and against the spirit of the game which ideally shouldn't be done.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 3:45 GMT)

Very well written... Mankading or any appeal once made has to be upheld by umpires based on laws without asking any player or captain to intervene. Laws are defined and umpires are there to abide them once evidence is clear. Lee had no reason to move into Sachin's run specially as there was a fielder in the direction ball was going. Still, it was OUT by law. If the same umpire can ask one fielding team for its moral, why did not they ask other team in similar situation. There have been these cases in past....

Posted by Lallubhai on (March 8, 2012, 3:43 GMT)

It would be interesting if somone were to compile a table to see which teams have had the most decisions wrongly going for them over a long period of time & vice versa . I have been watching international cricket full time for the last 20 years and i have got a strong opinion on that .

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 3:39 GMT)

This is an excellent article. Though not biased, it clearly depicts how the Indians are always a scapegoat in such cases, whatsoever the reasons may be. It also speaks very clearly about a lot of hurt that we Indians have been smarting over recently, specially concerning where the decisions are "moral" when they go against us, and "immoral" when they are in our favor. Is anyone listening? In my opinion, someone duly needs to take note that in most cases, we Indians take umpiring errors in our stride and move on, and this has proven costly many a times. For example, the 5-ball over in the recent tie between India and Sri Lanka might well have cost us the tournament, which, after Virat Kohli's blaze, was well within our reach. Dhoni chose not to hold the umpires responsible, playing "by the spirit", and no one ever bothered to take up the issue again. Something is definitely amiss, me thinks.

Posted by Buggsy on (March 8, 2012, 3:00 GMT)

Oh man, not one of these articles again. Anyway I'll bite - in the case of Ashwin vs Thirimanne, that was out. He was warned about breaking the rules and he should have paid the price with his wicket. I've said it before, it was farcical that the umpires even consulted Sehwag and it was farcical that Sehwag backed down. The finger should have gone up straight away.

My response to your question 'Shouldn't abiding by the rules be part of the spirit of the game?', the answer is yes. Rules are rules and I really irks me that many think they're too good for them, even if the players are doing it to maintain their integrity. If players/boards think a rule is not 'in the spirit' (what ever that means), then change the rules so the players don't face this kind of moral dilemma!

Posted by finalcloud on (March 8, 2012, 2:36 GMT)

By and large I agree with this.

There should be no controversy Mankading, as it is essentially a batsmen cheating the chance of a run-out.

With regards to Lee obstructing Tendulkar, as a general rule one would start with the assumption that he was simply trying to collect the ball and not obstruct the batsmen. If however there is evidence to suggest he deliberately changes line while aware of the location of the batter and tries blocking the path, that is when umpires need to intervene.

As it happened Tendulkar ran a path which Lee would rightly be allowed to travel in an attempt to get the ball, and unfortunately for Tendulkar was forced to change line. This is of no fault to the fielding team, and I would liken it to slipping mid pitch due to wet patches... Unfortunate but with onus on the batsmen running to choose the best route or point to start running from, and hence the first path; aware from foreseeable obstruction or hazard.

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

The article was good...but unnecessarily bringing up the Lee incident soured the taste...it was clear that he did not look at Sachin's path even once and went for backing up the ball instinctively..So there is no qn of obstruction..and yeah I believe Shewag calling back Thrimane was an act of stupidity by the team, perhaps they were too eager to lose and return back quickly....and Kapil was right to run-out Kirsten..you do not see anyone being called after he is bowled of an inside-edge or caught on the boundary rope...so y make so much fuss over these dismissals!!!!

Posted by   on (March 8, 2012, 2:12 GMT)

Good article. I agree with Aakash's comments, but let's be fair - these incidents don't happen too often, so lending them too much attention probably isn't warranted. There are other, more pressing, and material issues to deal with in the cricketing world - such as how to stamp out match and spot fixing, playing schedules, and consistency in the use of DRS. I will say this though - I do not understand why a player who is playing by the rules, and one who has already provided the opposition with a warning (like Ashwin did in the recent mankading incident), should be chastised for it. In fact, Thirimanne was not playing the spirit (and the rules) of the game, and this is what led to Ashwin doing what he did. So we don't need extensive reviews of the laws etc, and how to draw parallels between the spirit and the legalities - but we do need to promote that playing by the rules, and providing suffiient warning, is good cricketing behaviour. I don't know how someone can argue with that!

Posted by segga-express on (March 8, 2012, 1:49 GMT)

I'm all in favour of following the laws and that applies to Ashwin. The Mankading incident should NOT have been given out as Ashwin did NOT comply with the relevant laws. Mankading is only allowed BEFORE the bowler enters his delivery stride and Ashwin had quite clearly entered his delivery stride. To have given it out would be like giving an LBW off the inside edge.

Posted by Don_Simon on (March 8, 2012, 1:44 GMT)

Dear Aakash, imagine the situation if the opposition player had mankaded SRT, or if a Trent Bridge kind of incident happened to Sehwag in Delhi? Can you guess the reaction of the Indian supporters ?

Posted by Hurricane08 on (March 8, 2012, 1:43 GMT)

Well written Akash and absolutely agree with you. Spirit of the game entails that a player is not subject to a wrong decision knowingly. If I as the opposition captain know that the umpire made an incorrect decision, then I could recall him in the spirit of the game. But recalling a batsman who is out because he didnt do it purposefully is outright stupid. Should wicket keepers warn a batsman before stumping them? Should the non-striker warn a bowler once if he bowls a no-ball? And you are right, an umpire's job is to respond to the appeal, not ask if it can be withdrawn.

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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