Cricket usually takes pride in being called a gentlemen’s game. It, however, is losing that ‘title’ in recent years through on field actions (forget the off field rivalry) of players that bring great disservice to the game itself. The latest in this heap knocking all of a heap is Jos Butler’s run-out carried out by Ravichandran Ashwin in the match between King’s Eleven, Punjab, and Rajasthan Royals, Rajasthan, played in Jaipur on Monday, March 25, 2019.
The run out was seen as ungentlemanly, unsportsmanlike, and even unplayerlike by viewers in general opening up hot discussions about the act being unacceptable with calls for BCCI to take note of with concern.
IPL matches are not strictly ICC recognised and unlike in the case of the ball tampering event in South Africa in 2018 involving Australian players Cameron Bancroft, Steven Smith and David Warner. National Cricket Association in this case may not examine, observe, and consider any possibility of taking a dim view of this run out incident. It will be of undue importance to the organisers too. But the glare and reactions in Social Media to this ‘act’ has been swift and enormous.
As per the rules of Cricket ( Rule 41.16 Non-striker leaving his ground early) if the non-striker is out of his ground from the moment the ball comes in to play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him out. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one in the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker the umpire shall call and signal Dead Ball as soon as possible.
Ashwin was well within the rules of the game in the match.
In an extremely sporting gesture, Ashwin could, however, have warned the batsman without taking the bails off thus paying heed to the spirit of sportsmanship of the game itself.
Courtney Walsh of West Indies did it in a World Cup match. He refused to run out Saleem Jaffer at the non-striker’s end in the Lahore World Cup match on October 16, 1987, that cost West Indies a berth in semi finals. Adam Gilchrist of Australia did something different. His famous walk in semi final of 2003 World Cup is still lauded as the benchmark of sportsmanship and a fair play.
Ashwin has the same experience of whipping the bails as this before but with a different pleasant outcome. This was an ODI in Australia in 2012 against Sri Lanka. The non-striker batsman was Lahiru Thirimanne. Without warning the batsman who was out of the crease, Ashwin whipped the bails off and appealed for a run out. Umpires started discussing. That was when stand-in captain, Virender Sehwag’s good sense prevailed after consultations with Sachin Tendulkar. Ashwin’s appeal was withdrawn and the game moved on.
Why Ashwin, a good sportsperson, failed to do it here is puzzling. He claims it was instinctive, within the rules of the game, and does not regret it.
Is it instinctive as he claims, or is it the compulsions of the modern day competitive vigour to earn not just money, but a record, name, fame, or a ‘brand’ player slot spelling statistical success in cricket ?
Is it instinctive as he claims, or is it the compulsions of an excellent player in the slide trying to revive his fortunes through victory as captain in the game ?
Is it instinctive as he claims, or is it his model of aggression that will place a victory that is doubted and debated more than a loss shining only in the glory of principled, characteristic, and popular actions ?
Whatever be anybody’s opinion, Ashwin this day has marked his excellent cricketing credentials with an unwarranted blemish – a stain that he would wish hadn’t happened.
“Dieu avec nous “
Tuesday, March 26, 2019 – 1. 39 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” A bowler’s reputation lies in taking real wickets, not in whipping off the bails “