The badminton great Prakash Padukone once pulled up a youngster for literally toying with an opponent, playing trick shots, pretending to smash and occasionally holding his racquet in the wrong hand. It was a friendly match, yet Prakash called the youngster aside and told him that a sportsman should never disrespect an opponent.
All sports have ways of dealing with unsportsmanlike conduct. The ‘diver’ in football, the racquet abuser in tennis, the player showing dissent at an umpire’s decision in cricket all have to pay the price. Whole books have been written about golf etiquette. There are rules and then something called ‘spirit’.
What is legal may not always be acceptable. When Trevor Chappell bowled an underarm delivery to the New Zealander Brian McKechnie to prevent him from hitting a six to win the match, it was within the laws, but it caused a scandal. The Australian skipper Greg Chappell said later that all his frustrations had boiled over on that day. The authorities quickly banned the underarm delivery.dakkada-international-soccerway
Similarly, a bowler running out the non-striker who is backing up is within the laws, but it never fails to provoke a discussion on unsportsmanlike behaviour when it happens.
“Like other forms of life, cricket is the outcome of informal social contract,” writes Mike Brearley in Spirit of Cricket. “It’s practices are held together and supported by a set of mostly tacit agreements, all part of our legacy from past generations.
Entering the world of cricket is to enter such traditions and expectations, and feel safe enough within them…”
The philosopher David Papineau points to an interesting anomaly in what is acceptable. “While it would be disgraceful for a cricketer to claim a catch he hasn’t made,” he writes, “this is morally quite acceptable in a baseball player.” The explanation lies in the difference between morality and convention, says Papineau.
Bowlers goading a batsman into doing something irrational — like suddenly jumping out to loft a spinner — happens more often than is acknowledged. It borders on the edge of the acceptable, but once wives and girlfriends come into the conversation, then it tips over into the other side.
The Preamble was written into the Laws of Cricket in 2000. It had 417 words. In 2017, it was cut to 163. Mike Brearley has suggested a 39-word version: All those involved in cricket should respect the integrity of the game. On the field, and off it, the spirit of cricket asks us to ‘play hard but fair’. And let’s not lose the essence of the word ‘play’.how-to-win-football-betting-game
On a different topic, Sunil Gavaskar has reacted to last week’s column saying he wasn’t throwing a tantrum when he batted left-handed in a Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka. Here’s his letter to me in full.
I read your column about ambidextrous athletes with great interest because if there is someone really good being ambidextrous especially as a bowler, he offers not just an exciting sight but extra options to the captain while deciding his playing eleven.
However I was very disappointed to read the bit about my batting left-handed as not being a tactic but a tantrum.
Worse still you have tried to fire over the Karnataka team’s shoulders by saying that they believe till this date it was a tantrum.
Clearly your idea of the Karnataka team is one of a few members who socialise with you and not eleven members as a cricket team is supposed to be, for I know for a fact that Raghuram Bhat who was Mumbai’s nemesis in that game thought it was a great tactic to neutralize him and did not think it was done out of pique as many others with a chip on their shoulders about Mumbai cricket feel.
Obviously you were not at the ground during that time else you would have noticed that when a right hand bowler came on to bowl I switched to batting right-handed so the turning ball would hit my body and not take the edge, which was exactly the thinking for batting left-handed against the left-handed spinners Raghuram Bhat and Vijaykrishna who did most of the bowling.
If that was not a tactic, I don’t know what cricket tactics are. Tantrums will only get a batsman out more often than not and I remained unbeaten batting left / right handed for more than an hour.
Yes, we Mumbai cricketers are not as brainy, intelligent or educated with impressive degrees like the Karnataka cricketers are but our cricket sense has always been better than most as our Ranji Trophy record shows.
Now that I have brought the facts to the fore I hope you will do the right thing and correct the erroneous impression about that effort that you have created in the minds of the readers.