Cricket they say is a gentlemans game but somehow that’s hard to digest. Because for as long as I can remember its never been a gentlemans game. Chess for example is a gentlemans game. That’s not to say that cricket is a slug fest involving monkeys, its good at best of times but definitely not Always
The latest controversy involving Shane Warne has again brought into the light the debate as to where the line has to be drawn between being aggressive & crossing the limits. The incident that Im referring to happened in the KFC Big Bash league, Australia’s own version of the IPL. Unlike the IPL this league doesn’t boast of the same publicity but involves some high class cricketing action. The individuals involved were Shane Warne(Yes he still plays the T20’s when he’s not advertising his poker games on twitter) & West Indian Marlon Samuels, another player who is no stranger to controversies. During the 1st innings Marlon apparently while bowling didn’t allow David Hussey to take a run by grabbing onto his shirt which is inexplicable! Even for club cricket. The videos the incident that you watch just amaze you into wondering as to what exactly he was thinking. That was done & dusted. But in the 2nd innings Shane Warne who always loves grabbing eyeballs took it a step further by abusing Marlon while he was batting , then throwing the ball at his body with the customary “F**k you Marlon”. Not the one to be out done Marlon hurled his bat towards Warne. Both have been punished with Warne even getting a match ban. All this in a tournament involving cricketers from around the world. When people anointed T20 cricket as “Masala” cricket I’m sure they didn’t expect so much mirch in it!
Cricket has never been stranger to such controversies. Infact these sort of incidents keep cropping up now & then. And Im not talking about the recent times only. Remember Dennis Lilliee kicking Miandad & Miandad charging towards him with his bat? That was probably one of the most disgraceful moments on a cricket fields. Sunil Gavaskar would probably say that the Aussie got away just coz the laws always favour non sub continental countries. For that matter even Navjoth Singh Siddhu had a major altercation with Aamir Sohail on the field where bats were pointed, tongues wagged. During the recent world cup SA’s FAF Du Plesis had a go at the New Zealand players. Another famous on field fight was the one involving Glen Mcgrath & Ramnaresh Sarwan. A lot has been discussed about Harbajan Singhs “Monkeygate” with Symonds & also his “slapgate” with Sreesanth. Why even the normally mild& unflappable Rahul Dravid got involved in a fracas with Michael Slater.
So why do these players get into such fights. A very common reason that the commentators(which you can even hear in the Shane Warne Video) give during such instances is that its coz these players play with a lot of passion & that they play with their heart on their sleeves. So the question is that can this be used as an excuse for a Virat Kohli to abuse every time he holds onto a catch? Worse still is that does it mean that the rest of the mild players like Dravid & Vettori or Misbah Ul Haq don’t play with equal passion just coz they don’t glare at the opposition or swear at them? Most of the times its just the antics to grab the eyeballs, none better than our very own Sreesanth. Another name that comes to mind is Andre Nel & who can forget that famous bat whirling dance Sreesanth did to annoy Nel. The one memory I have of contrasting notions about aggression on the field is during Indias tour to Autralia. Javagal Srinath bowled a bouncer to Ponting which hit his helmet as he was ducking. Srinath immediately raises his hand & apologises(which is not seen in the video I’ve posted) which he absolutely didn’t need to, and what does Ponting do? He begins abusing Srinath asking him to go back, one of the many reasons Ill never hail him as a great sportsman.
One would say that the cricketers of yesteryears didn’t indulge in sledging. Well that might be true but then how much proof do we have for it? Those were the days when there were probably 3 or 4 cameras in total on the ground. And not all the matches were telecasted live. These days atleast one of the 30 cameras will catch every minute antic of the player. Everything is scrutinied in detail. Today before you even know it, a tiny incident is blown out of proportion by the media. Players too seem to love to “play the camera” as they say. They know that millions are watching at home. Aggression has its place in cricket but it shouldn’t get out of hand. Everyone enjoys watching a bit of banter on the field. Who can forget the famous incident during the 96 world cup when Aamir Sohail after hitting a boundary off the bowling of Venkatesh Prasad asked him to go & fetch the ball, the bowler responded by getting him bowled next ball. That’s hair raising stuff, isn’t it? Also Javed Miandads antics with Kiran More will always be remembered in a jovial manner.It’s one of the reasons you’d watch the match over & over again! But do you feel the same when Sreesanth has a go at the batsman ball after ball or when the Aussie fielders & bowlers engage in so called “mental disintegration” of the batsmen? So the line between being aggressive & rowdy is a very fine one. Things should never get physical in any sport but that is what has happened with the latest incident. What message do the youngsters who watch the game at home?