Reverse Swing or not, Don’t Swerve from Values
The ball tampering ( to increase reverse swing) controversy in the Test Match between South Africa and Australia has progressed predictably. Guilty players have confessed to tampering with the leather ball and officials have initiated actions. But the concern is that we may forget the matter in due course.
But there are some things that are sacred in this world where blasphemy is increasingly rife. One such sacred element in the Commonwealth (the Queen’s erstwhile dominions) of Nations is the reverence with which Cricket used to be taught to be played. A quintessential aspect which underscores the sublime nature of this game is the ‘spirit of walking’.
For the uninitiated, ‘Walking’ means, a batsman/ batswoman giving himself/ herself out if he/ she knows his/ her wicket has been taken legitimately by the opposition. The batsman decides his innings has ended and walks way from the pitch. The batsman does not wait for the Umpire to give his decision. India’s Sunil Gavaskar used to ‘walk’ and in recent times, we have seen the brilliant Australian Adam Gilchrist ‘walk’ on numerous occasions.
Another example of sportsmanship was seen in the 1987 World Cup when the West Indies player Courtney Walsh avoided running out Pakistan’s Saleem Jaffer, who was backing up too much (and illegitimately so). West Indies could have easily won the match and progressed into the semifinals. This disappointed many West Indies fans, but also thrilled a lot more West Indian and Global Sports fans.
But the 1990s and the last two decades have seen virulent behaviour on the Cricket field which has had many traditionalists shaking their heads. Sledging and desperate acts to win at all costs ( a sign of our value eroded times, maybe) are more the norm than the exception.
Cricket shows the Way
As most fans will agree, Cricket is far more than a game. Cricketing situations guide us in Life too. For eg. When Life presents tough situations, it is akin wiser to facing Mcgrath’s and Warne’s overs. If we resist the temptation to fish outside the off stump when McGrath is bowling or control the urge to hit Warne outside the stadium, we can always survive to have a go at the lesser bowlers. Targets in business are like the run rates required to win a limited overs game. Not all conflicts/ negotiations need to see one side win and walk away with the honours. We could always strive to eke out a draw as in a Test Match, if we are not in a position to force a win.
Sometimes as in personal or professional life we may fail some days, both as a bowler and a batsman. But if we can get a star opposition batsman run out, make some excellent saves, our fielding would help us keep us remain motivated/ confident and contribute to the team/ business/ family.
The Way Ahead for Cricket
We cannot allow any further degeneration in a sport that teaches us to Win graciously and lose with grace. Hopefully the ICC and the respective Cricket Boards will take earnest action. They need to ensure that the game is played with the traditional spirit of fair-play. Equally importantly ensure respect for the opposition.