Friday, 1 August 2014

On the Edge

James Anderson is up before the beak today. He is up before the ICC Diciplinary Panel on a Level Three offence, having allegedly shoved Ravindra Jadeja during the first Test at Trent Bridge. Jadeja also has his appeal against his Level One offence at the same time. Yes, it is unedifying for the game of cricket, but is it really a massive thing? It's been going on for years, hasn't it?

Lillee and Miandad discuss their differences
There have always been rows in the game of cricket. Gamesmanship, sledging and even general cheating were common in the days of WG Grace, so I am told. Despite the cheap jibes from my team mates, even I wasn't around to hear these first hand but some of the stuff that he came out with, has been described in far finer pages than the one that you are reading right now. Douglas Jardine was another, who was about as popular in Sydney as a turd washed up on Bondi Beach. Fred Trueman was no angel, Sunil Gavaskar walked off a cricket pitch, having coerced his non striker to walk with him, after a decision that he perceived to be rough. Many other players have lived on the edge - Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee, Javed Miandad, Ian Botham, the Chappells, need I go on? Even recently the likes of Harbajhan in the IPL have got stuck in, and we have seen bowlers throwing balls at batsmen a la Mitch and KP last winter, or batsmen throwing bats at bowlers in the case of Pollard and Samuels at Warne and Starc.

So why has a little spat come to this? And a little spat it is. One player pushing another away is small time, compared to Botham chasing Ian Chappell across a car park, Dennis Lillee booting Javed or Inzamam wading into the crowd. Some say that India are trying to use their position with the ICC. Others say that Jimmy has acted like 'a prick' as one put on Twitter this morning. If that is a crime, then Australia wouldn't have a side. Or it would be Warnerless, Clarkeless and Johnsonless.

Kirbs...sorted things out over a post match pint

My view is that players don't tend to have a post match beer with each other any more, and that leads to bad feeling. What used to get sorted out in the bar, now tends to fester. Steve Kirby, the recently retired pace bowler told me that sides don't tend to socialise leaving the feelings of whatever happens on the pitch clearly in the mind. Kirby, no stranger to the darker arts of the game said, "Back in the day sides would have a beer and it would all get sorted out. People would see me for what I was, and not this ginger lunatic that stepped onto a cricket pitch". Now sides don't do that so much, it creates bad feeling.

Even at club level, things were sorted out. I was always taught that what went on out on the pitch was left there and you didn't go running to the umpires/match referees/your mum (*delete as applicable) if the big, bad, overseas and more than likely Australian fast bowler said some nasty words to you. I have played in some games where there have nearly been fights on the pitch, yet it all got sorted out in the bar afterwards. Now clubs don't tend to drink with each other as much, sides often go running to the League Disciplinary Officer, especially when they have lost.

Burnley Banter?

Yes, Jimmy dishes out the verbals. He is an opening bowler for God's sake. A Burnley lad, sometimes you go over the edge of acceptability in the heat of battle. He is also an international sportsman and has had to push himself physically, mentally and confrontationally to get to the level that he is currently at. He wouldn't be the only one in Test cricket. Kohli is no shrinking violet, and the Australian team let him know their thoughts on his sister recently. My point is, that people do these things or whatever it takes to win.

My other point is where are the umpires whilst this is going on? Time for the sin bin approach? Maybe penalise a side twenty runs, like rugby where being penalised ten yards for dissent seems to work? Cricket has always had verbals because the likelihood of physical retribution is rare. If I had a pound for the countless eighteen year old, ten stone little shits that have verballed me over the years I would be a rich man. Whether they would on a football or rugby pitch, provided that I could catch them, remains to be seen?

Franny Lee and Norman Hunter

So Jimmy and Jadeja go before the beak and cricket will be a poorer game without these two, should they get a ban. What they did was hardly Billy Bremner and Kevin Keegan, or Franny Lee and Norman Hunter was it? This sort of circus with lawyers involved is a complete waste of time.

Put Jimmy and Jadeja together and tell them to go and have a beer. Common sense dictates that there are far worse things going on in the game of cricket at present.

As Bumble said on Twitter, "meanwhile in India, an envelope still remains unopened".


  1. This is the reality of the game. This uniquely dysfunctional, hypocritical game. International cricket has, if you listen to Steve Waugh or Shane Warne or many others the right within its tactics verbally to abuse players. Mental disintegration. It happens to this extent only in cricket. Anderson is, allegedly, a Sledger and abuser up with the worst. Meanwhile, living in the unreal world of the blazer, MCC and others pompously promote the preposterous "Spirit of Cricket". So far is this nonsense removed from the reality of the game that you doubt for the sanity of those who embrace it.

  2. Well said Paddy. I have lost count of the amount of non cricketers/workmates who think it is all cucumber sandwiches etc and can't believe what even goes on in club cricket. It is part of the game these days, if we like it or not.