The stupidity of spirit

Imagine your favourite player was on 70. It’s a flat pitch. The bowlers are tired. The batsman is flying. And a hundred is certainly on the cards. Then, in a moment of nothing short of pure stupidity, the batsman is not deceived by the bowler, or out thought by the captain, he just half hits one and is caught on the long on boundary.

It was stupid, dozy and was clearly a mistake.

Now imagine the umpire went over to the captain and said, “Look, it was clearly just a stupid error, he didn’t mean it, I’m offering you the chance to call him back”.

Under the laws of cricket, he’s out. But it’s a rubbish way to go out, and really, it was an absent-minded mistake. No one would call him back though. Because his mistake was something that happens in cricket every day.

Alex Barrow’s mistake was different. Barrow repeatedly left his crease before the ball was bowled, which under the laws of cricket is out if the bowler takes the bails off. He was warned about this by Murali Kartik, and still he repeated it. Kartik probably doesn’t warn batsmen that if they keep playing across the line, they’ll probably miss one.

For those who believe this is a moral issue, and point to the spirit of cricket, Barrow broke the spirit of cricket before Kartik did. Most notably “To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice”. Barrow had left his ground early, more than once, he was cheating a few extra yards, flouting the laws of the game, questioning the spirit of the game, and he got run out.

Steve Snell said he was shocked, but how could he be? Barrow had been warned, don’t cheat or I’ll run you out. He did it again.

Batsmen have been backing up terribly for years. At the end of T20 matches, you can see batsmen more than a metre from their crease as the bowler delivers the ball. It means that the bowler, who is bowling with the laws and spirit of the game, is more likely to concede a run. Barrow’s offence was probably absent-mindedness, but he was still out of his ground before the ball was bowled, giving him a greater chance of taking a run.

To run a batsman out for this cheating is against the spirit of the game according to many people. It’s not written anywhere in the laws, or even in the spirit preamble. But the lawmakers did take time to allow a batsman to be run out for leaving his ground before the ball is delivered. We should forget that though, and only apply the vague spirit of cricket phrases.

And if we are to take the spirit of cricket literally, one of the sharp practices it mentions is appealing knowing the batsman is not out. That means that the spirit of cricket is broken on a minute-by-minute basis all around the world. Where is the outcry of emotion that Kartik has had when an international bowler appeals, but then tells his captain not to refer it?

Cricket fans need to remember that the phrase spirit of cricket came from a time when the game was sexist, racist and the laws of the game were shaped by betting. Amateurs were separated from professionals, white captains led the West Indies and Aboriginal fast bowlers were called for chucking. The spirit of cricket phrase was lip service for what was often a grubby disgusting sport.

The real spirit of cricket isn’t a bunch of pious words written by some champion batsman, it’s Basil D’Oliveira wanting to play against his own country who didn’t want him, Bob Blair walking out after his fiancé had died, Rick McCosker batting with a broken jaw, the arm bands of Henry Olonga and Andy Flower and the fact that Thilan Samaraweera plays on despite being shot by a terrorist while representing his country.

I’m pretty sure the spirit of cricket, real or imagined, can handle a batsman being run out for leaving his ground a bit early.

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21 thoughts on “The stupidity of spirit

  1. MJ says:

    It’s a bit like sleeping with your mates ex girl friend. There’s no reason why you can’t do it. You get all the benefits while your mate cracks the shits. If you are comfortable in the knowledge that you have pissed your mate off, then go for it.

    But be warned – your mate will call you a Bradman and you will be known as the bloke who had a go at his mates ex girlfriend.

  2. Samir Chopra says:

    No, it’s like sleeping with someone your mate looked at once two years ago. If he complains about you hooking up with her because you and her were both on X at a Mardi Gras party on Oxford Street, he is the biggest idiot in the world, and you should call him a moron and tell him to get a life.

    • Mahek says:

      Some repressed memories there, Samir? :P Jokes apart, I agree with you and Jarrod here. I can’t believe they’re going to make Batty apologise.

      • Samir Chopra says:

        Mahek :)

        I’m just blown away that professional cricketers are spouting all this ‘spirit of cricket’ nonsense and showing themselves to be so ignorant of the laws of the game.

  3. Mykuhl says:

    Samir Chopra ftw.

  4. Matt says:

    You always see the wood for the trees Jrod, even when you are scribing with the flesh pencil. Kudos

  5. tumbles99 says:

    So you take Kartik’s word that he was warned? You see the only person who’s claiming that is himself. Nobody, repeat, NOBODY, saw him warn him prior to the actions. Infact the only thing you saw was Batty talking to Kartik at the start of the over.

    Watch the video of the event too – I presume you’d have done this – and see that Kartik STARTS HIS BOWLING action and then stops and whips of the bails. The umpires should have seen this and the whole event should have been avoided.

    If Batty or Kartik had an ounce of decency they’d have withdrawn the appeal on those grounds alone – it was simply cheating.

    Maybe Barrow will have something to say about it, or perhaps he’s got more grace than Surrey and will take it on the chin.

  6. Paul, Somerset says:

    What about the fact Barrow wasn’t actually out?

    He had indeed heeded Kartik’s warning, and his bat was still behind the crease as the bowler landed in his delivery stride. Then, instead of delivering the ball, Kartik turned within the crease and removed the bails with Barrow’s bat by this time just inches out of the crease.

    But the latter was irrelevant. The ball was dead by this time and the umpire ignorantly gave the batsman out.

    Kartik could see he was unable to Mankad Barrow, but having decided he wanted to prove a point, went ahead and tried it on anyway. And got away with it.

  7. Just an excerpt from A Farewell to Cricket on the Mankad running out Brown:

    “An early sensation came in Australia’s innings when Brown was once more run out by Mankad, who, in the act of delivering the ball, held on to it and whipped the bails off with Brown well out of his crease. This had happened in the Indian match against Queensland, and immediately in some Quarters Mankad’s sportsmanship was questioned. For the life of me I cannot understand why. THe laws of cricket make it quite clear that the non-striker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage. On numerous occasions he may avoid being run out at the opposite end by gaining this false start.

    I am well aware that few bowlers ever seek to take advantage of such an opportunity. It would be well nigh impossible for some of them to do so. Imagine, for instance, Lindwall stopping himself right at the bowling crease. He could not do it. Only the slower types of bowlers have a chance. Mankad was an ideal type, and he was so scrupulously fair that he first of all warned Brown before taking any action. There was absolutely no feeling in the matter as far as we were concerned, for we considered it quite a legitimate part of the game.

    I always make it a practice when occupying the position of non-striker to keep my bat behind the crease until I see the ball in the air. In that way one cannot possibly be run out, and I commend this practice to other players.”

  8. Keshu says:

    You should’ve mentioned Anil Kumble too who also played with broken jaw & even took Brian Lara’s wicket!

  9. HH says:

    Not sure what made the writer scribe such an ill informed & inaccurate piece.

    Take a look at the ECB video (about 2.07 in) & make your own mind up. As far as I can see Barrow was doing nothing wrong:

    Kartik just comes across as desperate & pretty pathetic.

    • Jrod says:

      HH, I read up on the incident from people on both sides, went looking for the spirit of cricket, studied the laws of cricket, read up on the ecb playing conditions, saw the lord’s statement saying it was legal and then wrote my piece ill informed and inaccurate piece.

      Then the video came out and I saw a batsman leave the crease before the ball was delivered and get run out, what did you see?

      • Nash says:

        In fact, what appears evident from the video is the batsman’s arrogance. He was close enough to the crease to make an effort to get in but he doesn’t even try.

  10. dr mohan says:

    murali is correct in getting out the batsman run out because he was not in the creaseif you allow batsman to leave the crease he can even cover half of the distance and reach the other end early and never get run out if you are talking of spirit of cricket ask the australians stop sledging the playing batsmn espcialy those at slips

  11. Miriam says:

    Paul, Somerset – there’s a subtle but critical difference between the Laws of Cricket and the playing conditions for the County Championship. The specific point is well-explained in the press release about the Kartik incident but in short, under the CC playing conditions, what matters is whether the bowler has “completed his usual delivery swing”, not whether he has entered his delivery stride. There’s a reason for the difference, namely that for games played under the Laws of Cricket the umpire is more likely to have access to video replays to help him monitor the position of the non-striker but for CC games that’s less likely to be the case so the non-striker is required to watch their position a bit more given that it’s harder for the umpire to do it, and there’s therefore a little more time for the bowler to run out the non-striker.

  12. R says:

    For the record Blair walked out after the follow on had been avoided – he had come to the ground (from his hotel room where he was grieving) prior to sutcliffe checking himself out of hospital to pump the yappies and save the follow on.

  13. jogesh99 says:

    Precisely Jrod, its clear who broke the “spirit.”

    I guess stumping when the toe is just on the popping crease comes under the same category?

    One of these dumbfuck Lankans was doing it recently, got Mankaded, then Sehwag called him back, and then that pompous twerp Sangakarra (or was it his faithful dwarf Jayawardene) went on about it after the match – fuck, what a bunch of two-faced arseholes.
    Since winning the ICC Fairplay (two terms that sit so well together) award some years back (must have grovelled against some whitey nation and impressed their massahs), these losers have shown their true selves, bowling wides when the opposing batsman is on 99, etc etc. Its probably part of Sri Lankan Cricket culture for all you know.

  14. AB says:

    Been following the game intensely for the last 20 odd years, but some things still baffle me.. most notably the ‘spirit of the game’ and the ‘duckworth-lewis’!
    It’s preposterous that a batsman leaving his crease before the delivery is even remotely acceptable to some! Blatant cheating. Period.

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