“Batsmen never walk off.”
This was the phrase used in the Sky Sports commentary box when Stuart Broad stood his ground after nicking a ball from Ashton Agar straight into the hands of Michael Clarke, who was standing at first slip, in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. The same commentators were disgusted when Dinesh Ramdin claimed a false catch in the ICC Champions Trophy earlier this year.
Many are saying that these two incidents are different and Broad didn’t mislead the umpire in any way, he just stood his ground, which is well within his rights. We all have to agree that Broad didn’t break any rules there but he cheated and cheating is against the spirit of the game. For those arguing on whether this can be classed as ’cheating’ or not, I believe that ”batsmen not walking when they know they have hit the ball is the basest form of cheating” (Telegraph).
Yes, it is a very big occasion, things are tense in the middle and players are trying to do their best to win but this doesn’t mean the spirit of the game isn’t applied to big tournaments and tense matches. In fact, moments like these tell us about the real spirit among the players, former players and the wise men sitting in the commentary box.
If Ramdin was fined half of his match fee and got banned for two matches, then this incident shouldn’t be ignored by the ICC.
When a batsman walks off or when a bowler apologises for a beamer, we all acknowledge it as it highlights the true spirit of this gentlemen’s game. All the cricket lovers feel so proud if an honest batsman walks off without caring too much about what the umpire has to say and similarly, there is a massive outrage when a batsman decides to stand tall after edging the ball to first slip or when a fielder claims a false catch.
Now, the ICC has to decide the reach and limitation of the spirit of the game. Michael Clarke shouting furiously at Aleem Dar after he made his decision is also against the spirit but who’s going to decide that is the question. Application of sportsmanship is a complicated process and needs some sane voices to be a part of it. Getting rid of it is not a solution, just a very negative approach, but it has now become very important that it is defined clearly.
And yes, all the wise men of the English commentary team should be told that. “Batsmen never walk off” being commonly said and accepted will do no good in the attempt to withhold the spirit of cricket, which in any case, is not clearly defined.