Eng v Aust, 1st Investec Test, Trent Bridge July 13, 2013

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

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • David 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.

  • Donna 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?

  • Donna 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!

  • Donna 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.

  • Robert 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.

  • Dummy4 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.

  • John 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!!!