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Cricket, A gentleman’s game?

Cricket, A gentleman’s game?
Raising fists, sledging, abusing, match fixing, slaps, punches and physical assault have become some characteristics of Cricket, which was once known as the Gentleman’s Game. The game, once considered to be a Gentleman’s Game, is no longer the same. It is slowly going the Football way, where fixing is a common phenomenon. Bookies and match fixing scandals have turned the cricket ground into a gambling den. Some players, who want to earn easy money become soft targets and fall prey to fixers.

While Football is remembered by incidents like the Zidane-Materazzi headbutt, Cricket has its own list of unholy rows. Recently one incredible mid-pitch fight between a Bermuda batsman almost knocked the opposition wicket keeper's shoulder with his bat during the Champion of Champions final in Bermuda on September 22. The two men were seen exchanging physical blows. One of the island nation’s domestic matches, the final between Cleveland County Cricket Club and Willow Cuts Cricket Club at St David's Cricket Club ground in Bermuda, witnessed the ugliest on-field brawl. Cleveland's wicket-keeper Jason Anderson punched the batsman George O' Brien without any apparent reason. The altercation turned into an ugly brawl when O'Brien responded with an attempt to hit the keeper's head with the bat. Anderson has been handed a life ban for his role in an ugly brawl during a match in a tiny island nation 10 days ago. While O'Brien, who himself has represented Bermuda 12 times, was banned from all cricket “for a period sufficient to include six one day matches.”

While in India, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary who were involved in an ugly on-field altercation and nearly came to blows during the Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium recently. Umpire K Srinath had to come between the two players as Gambhir moved towards Tiwary to hit him. The Bengal skipper too came charging at Gambhir. A livid Gambhir did not pay heed to Srinath's attempts at pacifying him and tried to get him out of the way.

Earlier in year 2008 Border-Gavaskar series Gautam Gambhir elbowed Shane Watson, after he provoked him. Gambhir hit a double ton but had to face a one-match-ban.

All said and done, the men from Down Under must not forget to introspect when it comes to fuelling controversies. No one can forget the incident when Trevor Chappell unwittingly became infamous after bowling underarm delivery when playing for Australia during a match against New Zealand in 1981, an incident described as the lowest point in the history of cricket. The teams were contesting the final of the Benson & Hedges world series cup. Though the action was not technically illegal, it was widely considered against the spirit of the game. In the same year against Pakistan Dennis Lillee kicked Javad Miandad during a test match.

If this is not at all, the Indian spectators hooliganism during a one day match on October 4 this year, between India-South Africa turned the situation of the ground ricky for players. The Indian fans present in the stadium couldn’t digest the sight of consecutive defeats at the hands of South Africa and resorted to violence. The hooliganism by Indian crowd resulted in players walking off the field as match was suspended twice. Match referee Chris Broad of England ordered match organisers to provide adequate security in the stands before the game could be resumed.

Even Australian spectators were not behind the Indian crowed, they passed racial comments against Muttiah Muralitharan. Even the then Aussie premier John Howard in 2004 called Muralitharan a “chucker”.

Cricket in the Indian subcontinent, is a religion and players are worshipped like Gods, however, with the recent expose by the Delhi and Mumbai Police, cricket fans have felt cheated. They are now in dilemma whether they should follow cricket with same passion or not. Their trust has been shaken after the arrest of Sreesanth and two other crickets.

The game is slowly going the football way, where fixing is a common phenomenon. Bookies and match fixing scandals have turned the cricket ground into a gambling den. Some players want to earn easy money by hook or by crook and being soft target fall prey to fixers. 

Cricket in the Indian subcontinent, is a religion and players are worshiped like Gods, however, with the recent expose by the Delhi and Mumbai Police, cricket fans have felt cheated. They are now in dilemma whether they should follow cricket with same passion or not. Their trust has been shaken after the arrest of Sreesanth and two other crickets.

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Cricket is a game played by 22 fools and watched by 22,000 fools,”, however after the recent spot- fixing, it won’t be wrong if said, “Cricket is a game played by 22 fixers and watched by 22,000 fools.”

Cities like Sharjah, Dubai, Delhi, Karachi, London and Sydney were once known as ‘Mecca of Cricket’ have turned into havens for bookies. Even the Indian Government has banned matches at Sharjah after several match fixing incidents were reported from there.

Over the last three decades, Cricket has been on the radar of bookies. Teams and players of India, Pakistan, Australia, England, Sri Lanka and others have been found guilty in match fixing scandals. However, ICC and their respective boards have put a ban on them, but fixing is still on.

Meanwhile, the Indian Sports Minister said that his head hangs in shame after the spot-fixing incident came to light. While Delhi police said that more arrest are likely to happen soon as they have concrete evidence against bookies and cricketers.

But the big question is after the recent expose will action be taken against the accused, or will they be freed or acquitted like others who were found guilty earlier and again have associated themselves with cricket by holding the position of coaches, selectors, commentators and cricket experts.

ICC, BCCI and Delhi Police claim that strict action will be taken to restore the image of cricket, but only future will say what action these agencies will take for the betterment of the ‘Gentleman’s Game’.
Sunil Thapliyal

Sunil Thapliyal

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