Brydon Coverdale
Assistant editor, ESPNcricinfo

Eng v Aust, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge

Sins of omission are no sins at all

There is no "good samaritan law" requiring players to help umpires make their decisions, and punishing them for keeping quiet is absurd

Brydon Coverdale

July 13, 2013

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

Denesh Ramdin was happy to let Misbah-ul-Haq walk off, West Indies v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval, June 7, 2013
Michael Holding first raised the similarities on Friday and argued that if Ramdin was punished for a lie of omission, Broad should be too © Getty Images

Let's get one thing straight: Broad was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. He shouldn't have done it. It was a misjudgement that cricket could have done without. How could he have suspended Denesh Ramdin for two ODIs for doing absolutely nothing?

Oh, you thought this was about Stuart? No, it's his father Chris who made the mistake. Stuart did nothing wrong. He just kept his mouth shut. Same as Ramdin. The only problem is that Chris Broad, in his role as ICC match referee, last month banned Ramdin for two games for a similar peccadillo.

Michael Holding first raised the similarities on Friday and argued that if Ramdin was punished for a lie of omission, Broad should be too. He's right to draw parallels, but the truth is Ramdin shouldn't have been sanctioned at all. By banning him, the ICC has set a precedent.

Of course, there are those who argue that a fielder claiming a catch he knows was not taken is a far greater crime than a batsman waiting for an umpire's decision. Perhaps that would be true - if the fielder did so. But go and search for the Ramdin footage on YouTube, and you'll see that he doesn't tell the umpire he caught the ball. He doesn't even appeal.

What appeared to happen during the Champions Trophy match between West Indies and Pakistan was that Misbah-ul-Haq edged behind off Kemar Roach, and Ramdin grasped the ball cleanly. Then, as his elbows hit the ground, it bounced out. There is clear footage of Ramdin picking up the ball off the ground.

Maybe the match officials viewed it as more serious than a batsman standing his ground because the spill happened simultaneously as the umpire Steve Davis raised his finger. But who is to say what went through Ramdin's mind? He was looking down at the time. How long do you have to control the ball for it to be considered a clean catch? Perhaps Ramdin thought Davis had taken the spill into account.

All of this happened in quick time. Ramdin went to join his team-mates in celebration, while the square-leg umpire queried the call with his on-field and off-field colleagues. The umpires made the decision, the players accepted it, before and after the reversal. As it should be.

But Ramdin was subsequently charged by the ICC with "conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game". He pleaded not guilty and was slapped with a two-match ban by match referee Chris Broad.

"This is regarded as a serious offence as it is the responsibility of all players to act in the spirit of the game," Chris Broad said after handing down his decision. "I hope Mr Ramdin has learnt his lesson from this incident and that we will not see such behaviour by him or any player in the future."

But hang on. What did Ramdin do again? Nothing. He did nothing. He did not claim a catch he knew was not legal. He did not attempt to influence the umpire's decision. True, he did not inform the umpires that there was a chance the catch was not clean, but in an era of cameras and technology and highly professional umpires, why is that the responsibility of the fielder?

This is not Latham, Massachusetts, and this is not the Seinfeld finale. There is no "good samaritan law", no requirement for a player to offer unsolicited assistance to an umpire. Nor should there be.

The same goes for the Stuart Broad case. Like Ramdin, he allowed the umpire to make his decision without trying to sway him. Broad must have known he hit the ball. Instead of stepping in, he allowed the umpiring process to take its due course, just as batsmen have been doing since the dawn of Test cricket.

Had he explicitly told Aleem Dar he had not hit the ball, punishment would be justified. Had Ramdin told the umpires he had definitely completed the catch, sanctions would be reasonable. But that's not what happened, in either case.

Coming so close together, the two incidents cannot be viewed in isolation. Either the ICC wants players to adhere to some unrealistic honour system, or it doesn't. It can't ask of fielders what it won't ask of batsmen, and no player should be expected to intervene in an umpiring decision.

Yes, Broad got it badly wrong. Last month.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (July 16, 2013, 9:48 GMT)

Coach goes with captain demanding dhoni to withdraw his appeal for the bell run out. Now u find him defending broad not walking. Hypocrisy to the max.

Posted by   on (July 15, 2013, 6:06 GMT)

for those who reckon batsman not walking is not as bad as a fielder appealing for a false catch. Well both situations aren't really comparing. It is the fielders that appeal for the wicket, not the batsman appealing for a 'not out'. so by not walking, he is really hiding the fact that he didn't 'hit it', which I believe is just as bad as appealing for a false catch. And if u are talking about suspending for claiming false catches, shouldn't the bowler be also suspended for appealing for ridiculous LBW's - which I see very often.

Posted by   on (July 15, 2013, 0:56 GMT)

There is a simple solution to the problem of walking. Make it illegal. Make the batsman wait for a decision in every circumstance, even if it is a formality. This would not harm umpires' authority over the game; quite the reverse.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 14, 2013, 23:28 GMT)

Spot on analysis, Brydon. I remember wondering about the catch, being undecided about the reversal, & surprised at Broad's harsh sanction.

I looked at available footage: Ramdin catches, has control, lands on his elbows, the ball rolls out. He looks for the ball, reaches to pick it up & looks up at the ump, who is raising his finger. Ramdin bends down, retrieves the ball & flicks it away. He makes no disguise of searching for & retrieving the ball.

There is no evidence he looks to see if the catch has been called fair or if he needs to "cover" an unseen drop. He neither appeals, nor claims a catch. The ump does not ask him, square leg, or make other attempt to check, but dismisses. Ramdin may believe the catch fair, & that the ump signals so by dismissing! If the 3rd ump decided the catch was fair, Ramdin's actions by default were not a violation. The TV ump's decision, RIGHT OR WRONG, defined his actions as a violation.

Now, are TV umps ever wrong? Ask Trott, Kallis etc.

Posted by Twinkie on (July 14, 2013, 22:03 GMT)

Here's a hypothetical scenario for you. Batman edges to the keeper. Catch is spilled. All players appeal except the keeper. Standing umpire gives it out. Keeper says nothing. Square leg umpire consults with standing umpire. After referral to third umpire it is shown that the keeper knew he had dropped it. Decision is overturned. Next ball same batsman gets a very thick edge. Umpire is the only one who misses it. Given not out. Batsman says nothing. No fielding referrals left. Batsman gets to stay. Replays show that the batsman had to have known that he hit it. HOW IS THAT FAIR?!!! And then to top it all off the keeper would be suspended and the batsman would go unscathed? LUDICROUS!!! Now can all you shortsighted, illogical people who are missing the point see how wrong Ramdin's suspension was?

Posted by Twinkie on (July 14, 2013, 21:35 GMT)

Brendon Julien livid?! You have got to be kidding! Wasn't he the one who knocked down Sherwin Campbell and nearly caused a riot in Barbados? I was there and I saw normally docile people erupt after seeing the replay! I was too shocked to overcome my normal decency and join in the protest. It can be seen on youtube along with the adventures of Brad Haddin and Ian Healy. Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh. Were they suspended for these? Richie Benaud was on Twitter lambasting Ramdin and I got him to admit that his players were often guilty of the same thing. Was there also an incident where Stuart Broad was spoken to for deliberately distracting the batsman? Was he suspended for this? Hooray for technology and youtube. Get with it, players and officials! We can see you! Your duplicity is recorded and available to us anytime and anywhere, forever!

Posted by Twinkie on (July 14, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

Thank you so very much for this article. This double standard is nauseating. Chris Broad definitely made a big mistake. Ramdin never appealed and he never even really celebrated! The umpire never asked him if he caught it! Why is he obligated to tell him anything! Aussies never do and from what I've seen of the goodly match referee's son over the years, he's never been big on the spirit of the game. If I had to pick one English player who never would tell it would be Stuart Broad. Fair enough. Thank God for Whispering Death! He's no longer whispering but he's still bowling fierce bouncers. Hopefully he can help to bring death to the disparity in treatment meted out to certain nation's players. Tony Cozier has also had much to say about a similar incident with former Windie's keeper Ridley Jacobs (never appealed and was also suspended) and also a thick Tendulkar edge given not out (and gleefully accepted by the batman) in the same series.

Posted by 200ondebut on (July 14, 2013, 15:42 GMT)

Whilst Ramdin didn't appeal - he was too busy scrabbling around the floor for the ball - you can clearly see on the TV footage, that we he finally managed to pick it up at the third attempt the first thing he did was to roll it to the square leg umpire (what you do when you get a wicket). He then ran to join the celebrations. So while he didn't stand there and say "hows that" he acted in a way consistent with claiming the catch. Broad just stood there and waited for the decision. He did nothing to try and fool the umpire - Ramdin did.

Posted by   on (July 14, 2013, 14:45 GMT)

You can fool some people all the time but cannot fool all the people all the time.

The objective of a contest is to bring the best out of the system in the interest of fans,viewers. Anything that obstructs this and therefore the outcome is a blot on the game. Any individual be it administrator,player or official in charge of the game responsible for any action that too in public view is seen to be changing the course of the game , human error notwithstanding must be corrected on-field ,then and there-that in my view is justice and fairplay. Anytime to justify the crime is not acceptable and degrades a contest by offering an unfair advantage to one of the teams not earned by skill or talent but an error.

Posted by dinosaurus on (July 14, 2013, 13:16 GMT)

@ srikanths

Please keep to the facts. Gilchrist actually supported Broad. And, while on the subject of your criticism of Australian players, if Andrew Symonds should have walked in that match in Sydney, so should have Tendulkar!!!! I made a (naturally unpublished) comment that I found it proper that there was no talk of a Cricket Australia response to the incident, and there has certainly been no threat from that quarter to pack their bags and go home!!!

Posted by DRS_Hater on (July 14, 2013, 8:33 GMT)

If the error was committed a month ago, why is this article coming out now? Just goes to show that only English and Aussies get to interpret/invoke the spirit of cricket based on their convenience. Ramdin's only fault is that he does not play for these two countries. This and the other phalanx of writers who have suddenly come out of the woodwork to support Broad's (in)action were not to be seen during Ramdingate. As for the Broads it is pretty interesting that the junior Broad keeps getting away for the same transgressions that the senior Broad penalizes the other players for.

Posted by flowersintherain on (July 14, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

Stuart Broad has a history of getting away without sanction for behaviour which would cause other players to be penalized. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the match referee, Chris Broad's colleague, to penalize him.

Posted by ben.p. on (July 14, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

This is a good article. 'Awaiting the umpire's decision' was all that Ramdin did, and as the presiding umpire missed the drop, his colleague at square leg compensated. I think Stuart Broad was wrong on Friday and should have walked, but the ICC need to be very careful about getting into the 'honour' debate and then finding they have imposed double or unworkable standards. Consistency is everything, as this piece makes clear. Ramdin's punishment came as a surprise. Does anyone remember Damien Martin 'catching' Andrew Strauss in the deep during the 2005 Ashes and allowing the batsman to depart, when the television replay unquestionably showed that he had dropped the ball?

Posted by srikanths on (July 14, 2013, 5:22 GMT)

Ramdin's appealed for a catch meaning he gave the impression that he had caught it cleanly. It is slightly different from Stuart Broad.But coming to larger point, I think there was nothing worng with what Broad(Stuart) did. Umpires are there to give the right decision. After all it is not correct to expect a batsmen to walk when they don't have an option of not walking when wrongly given out.Trott sufferred in the hands of Hotspot.

Read somewhere the Gilchrist was critical of Broad. While he himself was a walker, his team mates have never been. I hope recalls Andrew symonds in 2008 against India in Sydney. There is nothing wrong in not walking but let us not have double standards one for your mates and another for opponents

Posted by dlpthomas on (July 14, 2013, 3:39 GMT)

To walk or not to walk is an individual decision. However, if a player decides to walk then he needs to "walk" every time he is at the crease and not just when he feels like it. Some players with a reputation of being a "walker" seem to walk for the big nicks and then stand their ground for the thin ones. If you have a reputation as a walker and then one fine day you decide to stand your ground when given out, everyone assumes the umpire has got it wrong rather than the player has decided "not tonight, Josephine". This just adds more pressure to the already thankless task of being an umpire.

And lets remember the old joke: the only time an Australian walks is when he runs out of petrol

Posted by inswing on (July 14, 2013, 3:04 GMT)

Standing your ground *is* explicitly telling the umpire that you have not hit it. I am not out, so I will continue to bat. To try to wiggle out of this blatant act by saying that somehow it is better than claiming a wrong catch is laughable.

Posted by Tyrion-and-Tywin on (July 14, 2013, 2:22 GMT)

I am living in Aus and the press coverage has been irrationally focused on the Broad incident. Our own Bill O'Reilly of Australian cricket, Mr Brendan Julien, was livid (his definition of "fair and balanced" is very similar to Mr O'Reilly's). I dont recall him (or any Aussie commentator) being livid when Andrew Symonds didnt walk in that ill fated 2008 test against India. Even my deaf 14 year old Labrador heard that nick. I felt sorry for Bucknor then and I am feeling sorry for Dar now. But atleast Dar will keep his job!

Posted by   on (July 14, 2013, 2:15 GMT)

Ramdin's conduct was not only intentional but very ugly also. For a fielder it is relatively easy to realize if there is spill or not. In case of Ramdin he was pretty sure he spilled the catch -- it was not a pre-action -- to determine if the catch taken already bumped -- in that case fielder still appeal for catch and umpire seek help of technology to refine the verdict. However if a fielder dropped a catch -- a post action -- he's pretty much aware and he's in a position where nobody except him would know about that, he's responsible to inform that to umpire. In a cricket field a batsman has to battle against 11 opponent players and has to react in fraction of second, so he can be sympathized for guilt -- not the fielder who is among the 11 attacker.

Posted by Tyrion-and-Tywin on (July 14, 2013, 2:11 GMT)

Totally agree. The suspension of Ramdin was so utterly wrong that I am surprised that Broad was allowed to get away with it. Again, I totally agree that Broad junior did nothing wrong by not walking. Would he be less to blame if the nick was very thin? An edge is an edge; one is not "more out" if the edge is very obvious. Every current batsmen stands and waits for the umpire's decision if the edge is thin, so why not for a thick edge? I do think though that the 3rd umpire could have just whispered something in Dar's ear, just like he did when ramdin claimed the catch.

Posted by RodStark on (July 14, 2013, 1:18 GMT)

On the general issue of the "spirit of the game", I (with deep regret) have come to the conclusion that there's not much hope for it at the top level. International cricket is now a well-paid professional sport. It's not like playing on the village green where there is no technology (and sometimes no umpires), and it's more important for players to monitor themselves.

It's a bit like basketball. In the recent NBA playoffs, I was outraged that the TV commentators were actually praising players for fooling the refs (pretending to have been fouled, I think). When pick-up basketball is played in a gym with no officials, honesty is expected.

When you have a professional sport making millions of dollars, then it is up to the administrators to come up with a good way to use technology (and fines and suspensions) to ensure fair officiation of the game. I don't think you can expect a professional athlete, whose career depends on his success, to help out the officials to his own disadvantage.

Posted by applethief on (July 14, 2013, 1:18 GMT)

Brydon, you're missing the point by repeating again and again that Ramedin did nothing. He, in fact, DID do something. He had his chance to admit his error in judgement at his hearing, but instead chose to continue protesting his innocene. Even if he had honestly believed he took the catch, he'd have seen at least 1 replay before his hearing. From there, it's straightforward: apologise in the hearing, admit he made a mistake, don't get slapped with a ban, just a slap on the wrist. Not that it would happen, if Stuart Broad had a hearing and swaggered in claiming he didn't hit it, then yeah, he should get hit with a penalty. There's plenty to be said for how players handle these things after the fact.

Posted by lesamourai on (July 14, 2013, 0:14 GMT)

Well written Brydon. It is clear that it was Chris Broad's decision that was not in the spirit of cricket on this occasion.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 22:28 GMT)

well that precedent was set a long time before. Anyone remember Rashid Latif when he was the captain? In a game against Bangladesh he had dropped the catch but claimed it and a ban of 4 or 5 matches was imposed on him, he never made a comeback. Inzi overtook him as Captain and that incident ended his career.

Posted by Simoc on (July 13, 2013, 21:44 GMT)

Nikhil which planet are you on. Rogers was given out when Prior took the ball and raced around celebrating which influenced the umpire to give it out caught. Rogers wasn't even close to hitting it. This has been going on frequently for years in tests. I agree 100% with the writer.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 19:49 GMT)

Yeah! I agree with the writer it is more of umpire's fault than player's. In this era of technology why umpires refrain to consult upstairs. ICC should made a rule or something that if ground umpire makes a mistake 3rd umpire could interfere ore something.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 18:33 GMT)

Tendulkar? Dravid? Gilchrist? Men of character. Or may be a certain Marvan Attapatu? When he was the Sri Lankan captain, he actually called back Symonds. Yes, CALLED BACK a player who was given out unfairly. Can you even imagine that? And a bit of nostalgia, but I recall a famous instance in 1979 in a Bombay Test (I think) when Gundappa Viswanath called back Bob Taylor because he was falsely given out. England went to win that test because of Taylor-Botham partnership. There are enough examples for people to follow, but as Siddle puts it - unfortunately, they are few and far between. Now that you have set a precedent in the case of Ramdin, you MUST punish Broad. Yes, if they had let Ramdin go, then I can understand ICC sitting still. But, they did set a precedent there. Would reek of sheer bias, if they failed to act on this one.

Posted by H_Z_O on (July 13, 2013, 18:22 GMT)

@jmcilhinney the ICC made a rod for its own back with the Ramdin punishment. A fine (and likewise Broad could also be fined) might have been sufficient, a small slap on the wrist and get told to behave better in future. But a suspension, in the middle of a major tournament no less, was incredibly harsh. If they absolutely insisted on a suspension it should have been in the next ODI series West Indies played so they could plan around losing him. An ICC tournament is an awful time to be a man down.

A bad precedent was set and it does seem fair that Broad be held to it. And once they've punished him, they should abolish this ridiculous spirit of the game nonsense for good.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 18:16 GMT)

The "Spirit of Cricket" has no real definition. It is not a set of precepts or rules. It is instead the way the game has been played over the years. Over that time, it has become accepted that fielders must speak up if their team (note: the team, of which they are part) appeals for a catch that they know has been grounded. On the other hand, as the article points out, there is not a clear understanding that the same is true for batsmen.

The Spirit of Cricket cannot be reduced to logical arguments but must be based on the practice of cricketers through the decades.

Posted by mcs81 on (July 13, 2013, 17:58 GMT)

For all those calling for Broad's head, rewind back to the infamous Sydney test in 2008 between India and Australia. In that match, Michael Clarke edged a ball off Anil Kumble to slip but refused to walk. The Indians had to really plead with the umpire to get the right decision. While the debate on 'walking' will continue, Aussies shouldnt be complaining if the oppostion batsmen dont walk.

Posted by H_Z_O on (July 13, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

@disco_bob I don't understand this idea that a batsman should walk for a big edge, but not a slight one. Surely it's tougher for the umpire to adjudge the slight edge? In both cases the correct decision is for the batsman to be given out, because an edge is an edge.

If the idea is that batsmen should feel some sort of moral imperative, it should be to ensure the umpires can reach the correct decision. If, on the other hand, the idea is that a batsman is entitled to "try his luck" why is that any different with a blatant nick? If an umpire can't see the obvious edge, then the fault is 100% with the umpire. A feather is harder to spot, so if anything you can blame the batsman more.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 17:54 GMT)

totally agree with BARNESY4444....IF DRS can't take toll over these things then what's the use of spending so much money on the add to the debate broad should have walked..he was can't compensate what shameless things aussies have done on the field..umpire making an error though a serious one is different and staying at the crease when knowing you are out certainly would daint the spirit of the game...I belive sucontinent players play with more spirit..recall when IAN BELL'S controversial run out was withdrawn by india.. teams and individual should set an example ,guys like tendulkar , dravid, kallis , amla , gilchrist were the true ambassadors of the game and will be forever in every sense.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 17:27 GMT)

Can't see how the two incidents are comparable at all. Have seen the footage of Ramdin's actions and he was part of the team appeal, he clearly tried to hide it too by tossing the ball away and then getting in to the team high fives etc. It was a blatant attempt to influence the umpire.

Broad on the other hand, just did what batsmen have done for years now and stood his ground, waited for the umpire. Unfortunately for him, the umpire's mistake was huge. Should we now tell batsmen that they're expected to walk if it's very obvious but it's not necessary if there is some doubt to spectators?

Further, cricket is structured such that the fielding team needs to petition the umpire but not the batsman, which is why the bowlers/fielders can get away with crazy histrionics, while the batsman is expected to be fatalistic and accept his lot without a peep.

Posted by Cluedin on (July 13, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

If the umpire had raised the finger declaring the batsman out and the spill happened simultaneously, then the decision should remain as out. The umpire could only raise the finger once he had ascertained that the catch was in control. The very action of declaring the batsman out implied that the umpire judged that the catcher was in control.

Posted by disco_bob on (July 13, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

While I agree with the article and I thought it was shameful behaviour for such an obvious edge, I nevertheless must point out there is still a subtle difference with batmen because at what point does a feather transmogrify into a thick edge. Broad was not castigated because he did not walk having knowingly hit the ball, it was because of the blatant gaul due to the amount of bat on it. Had it been a feather then it would just be a murmur on the radar. So then where do you draw the line at the point where we, the public are outraged.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 16:42 GMT)

Why can the third umpire over rule an out decision if a no ball is missed, but not a blatantly incorrect not out decision, without having the fielding team ask for a review.

The same rules and standards should be applied to all uses of the DRS.

Posted by zxaar on (July 13, 2013, 15:54 GMT)

5***** for the article. Spot on.

Posted by lefty84 on (July 13, 2013, 15:43 GMT)

Spot on observation. The question was never on whether Stuart Broad was correct in staying put. The real problem here is with ICC and its officials selectively applying the 'So called spirit of the game" at their convenience.

Either we make the law uniform and punish guilty batsmen, bowlers and fielders or we let the umpires and technology decide the outcome and stop this nonsense of upholding the spirit which is becoming an oxymoron.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 13, 2013, 15:26 GMT)

From what I've read the decision to suspend Ramdin over this was wrong.

DRS is being abused. It's being used as a tactic by players to try and overturn 50-50 decisions at critical moments of games. DRS should be changed in 2 ways: 1) Umpires should be the only ones allowed to ask for a review of decisions. 2) If the 3rd umpire notices an obvious error they should have the power to intervene.

Posted by   on (July 13, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

absolutely spot on, great piece

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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