2nd August 2013, England v Australia in a crucial opening Ashes test
Stuart Broad caused great controversy by not walking after a clear as mud edge to Michael Clarke at slip. It caused front and back page headlines in both the countries battling for the little urn in cricket’s most storied rivalry.
What is cricket in the modern age? has it become like football, so competitive and driven by money and TV rights that players will do anything to succeed?
Or has the world and technology moved on sufficiently to the extent that the player has been fully removed from any decision making on their survival or downfall
Does cricket exist to make money or does cricket need to make money to for the game exist?
There are two theories that coexist in cricket, let the umpire make the decision or in the case of Adam Gilchrist take the decision away from the umpire and walk. There is no right or wrong in both school’s of thought, the controversy exists because there are indeed two schools of thought
PPCC v Lankians is historically a spicy and competitive fixture and this game certainly did not fail to live up to the hype even without Vijay Jani’s decision to rightly or wrongly stand his ground as he waited for the umpire to make a decision.
The day started with a calm air of normality. The perennially late Lankians arrived on time and a prompt start gave a mellow feel to the day’s proceedings. However the mellowness rapidly receded and the match was very quickly only a ‘friendly’ in name
PPCC won the toss and Vijay elected to field. PPCC’s consistent bowling was anything but friendly as H’s hostility and Junior’s metronomic bowling put the Lankians under instant pressure in a reduced 35 over game. H bowled an explosive short burst and was unlucky to just pick up the one wicket as he regularly beat the bat with the ball moving away on the left arm over angle
He built up a story as after beating the bat from over the wicket, H changed the angle to round the wicket and reaped instant success. A fuller length delivery clipped the off peg as the batsmen, totally confused by H’s cunning line was bewildered as he left a straight ball and allowed it to clip his stumps
Junior had his own story as initially his most deadly weapon was a slower ball full toss. As he took wickets he confidence grew and he delivered his canny cutters with aplomb. His duel with a Lankian batsmen who only knew how to slog was memorable, the calm accountant showed that it wasn’t just numbers that he was accurate with as he bowled a gun barrel straight delivery to clean bowl a swiping and swinging batsmen. Elation from Junior
You can’t keep Champion Dave out of the game for long and he contributed with a phenomenal run out, hitting the stumps directly after a clean pick up and throw. From then onwards the Lankians knew there was never a run to deadly Dave’s lightning arm. Dave’s piece of magic left Lankians floundering at 50 odd for 5 at the drinks interval, Priory were well on top
At this point Junior had already bowled out, Vijay tried to get some cheap overs in from his part time bowlers and with Priory lacking a genuine fifth bowler it seemed an opportune time to capitalise. Unfortunately just as Priory’s top four bowlers went between 3 and 4 runs per over, the 8 overs delivered by the combination of fifth choice bowlers went for just over 10 runs per over in a critical part of the game as the Lankians initially consolidated and then attacked Priory’s bowlers
Good second spell’s from Dave and H, along with 6 tidyish overs from Vasa brought the game back slightly for Priory however the Lankians were now buoyed with momentum and their lower order were swinging from the hip. This combined with a very composed half century from Gayan took their total past the 180 mark. The sun was out, and after the new ball was seen off the pitch and ball were both equally flat, Priory went into the tea break not knowing whether this was an above par total
After a sumptuous tea courtesy of Punit Jani where the paneer rolls lived up to the spiciness of the match PPCC went out in search of a challenging but certainly achievable target.
Raminder and Punit opened up for Priory and everyone was behind P, desperately wanting the likeable selfie king to get himself some much needed runs. After a couple of the most technically correct back foot defensive pushes into the off side as is so regularly the case with Punit a poor ball had his number as he tried to pull a short one that kept low, the length and height of the ball deceiving his shot as the ball crept below his grimacing bat
At the other end Raminder had been studying the MCC coaching manual. He played exquisite cover drivers reminiscent of the most technically assured players in their pomp, but instead of tuning into the TV to watch Sachin, Ponting, Kallis or Jayawardene play their signature shot we got a live version with Raminder making a mockery of the Lankian quicks. Whilst he was at the crease there was hope in the Priory ranks that a great victory could be pulled off
After Mike also fell for a duck (three ducks in PPCC’s innings) Vijay joined Raminder and brought his usual calm and laid back demeanour to the crease as they built what was looking like an innings building partnership. At 60-2 Raminder caved in and played one shot too many, holing out in the deep. A mixture of Vijay’s calmness and Raminder’s explosiveness seemed like the right recipe for PPPC however the flour in the mix did not rise and Priory saw their burnt cake go up in flames
An incident shortly after ignited this flame and was perhaps the catalyst that caused Priory’s innings to go up in smoke with the team’s ashes scattered all around the Cavendish ground. In Ashes 2013 like scenes Vijay hit a glance straight to the fielder who for all intents and purposes seemed to have claimed a perfectly legitimate catch. Vijay waited for the umpires finger to be raised, Andy Lee, a veteran of several hundred games of cricket could not clearly see the incident and as the batsmen had not walked assumed the age old mantra of ‘if in doubt, give it not out’
It was a real dilemma that is in sync with the professional game. In the old days as I am sure Bob Willis will say, if the fielder claimed the catch in the spirit of the game the batsmen would accept this claim and walk off the field. A time where the sport was called the gentleman’s game.
I am certainly not criticising Vijay for not walking however the unwritten rule is no longer abided by and this therefore puts the umpire under increasing pressure to make a split second decision
As this was the second such incident in the game after Lankians had earlier claimed a similarly dubious catch it caused much emotion and the game disrupted into chaos. Fielders surrounded the batsmen and umpire, arguments ensued and the fielding side alleged cheating had taken place
Sri Lankan’s are a proud nation and the events that took place reminded me of an incident in Australia where Arjuna Ranatunga hurled his team off the park after Daryl Hair continuously no-balled Muttiah Muralitharan. Lankian’s captain, the senior of the team started to walk off the park in protest at the decision
I am not condemning this behaviour nor am I supporting it as thought to myself how would our team have reacted had two similar incidents had occurred against us. Andy Lee is certainly not a cheat and to be called as such was a sad moment in what then became a bad tempered finale to an otherwise friendly game played in good spirit
The incident marked the beginning of the end for Priory’s chase as Vijay, Hambo and Vasa all lost their wickets in quick succession. A marvellous cameo from Junior supported the ever impressive Dave as Priory briefly threatened to beat the odds and overturn the deficit. Junior is developing as yet another all-rounder to add to Priory’s burgeoning list and his partnership with Dave who combined destructive hitting with graceful cricketing shots gave the game some respite after the incident
As Junior fell and Dave was unlucky to be run out by an eager H the game was all but over. To rub salt into the wounds Priory could not bat out the overs as Lankians bowled exceptionally well to claim all ten wickets. Defeat by 34 runs in a hotly contested game that Priory probably felt they could have won at various times in the game