Integrity is All or Nothing

There is a furore going on at the moment in world cricket. India is touring Australia having lost the first two test matches. The second match was won with eight minutes to go. That’s eight minutes in a game that goes for 30 hours. It’s been a stressful match with horrible umpiring decisions, racial tension, and repeated questions of integrity.

Part of the controversy surrounds the issue of honesty. Did you catch that ball before it hit the ground? Did you edge that ball? The Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, set up a meeting before the series with the Indian captain, Anil Kumble, to discuss a “gentlemen’s agreement” concerning catches. He suggested the word of the players be accepted when it came to determining whether a catch was legal. That sounds like a good thing for cricket.

Ponting backed that idea up when he refused to claim a catch early in the game. Unfortunately he also claimed a catch that wasn’t in the second innings. This problem came to a head on the fifth day when Ponting was apparently asked by the umpire if a catch had carried to Michael Clarke. The decision quite possibly gave the win to Australia. Ponting told the umpire the catch carried and the umpire immediately gave the batsman out. There is a third umpire with access to video replay who was not bothered to make a decision.

This may seem trivial. The problem occurs when this “system” is compared to that governing walking. Let me explain briefly to the Americans in the audience. A common way to be out in cricket is to edge the ball behind and have it caught. You can imagine that a ball traveling 90mph can touch a bat without much deviation. The person best placed to know whether the ball hit the bat is the batsman. There is an unspoken law in cricket that a batsman should never “walk”, that is, admit that he edged the ball. This should appear to you to be cheating. You’d be pretty accurate.

If players don’t walk, why should we believe that they actually caught a ball? This match made a wonderful point of this paradox. Michael Clarke refused to walk when he was caught out and was then the player whose catch was in dispute as the game was in the balance.

You can not claim integrity on one hand and ignore it on the other. It doesn’t work. Ever.

You can read some more at The Age newspaper here. Blog post with over 100 comments. Peter Roebuck. Greg Baum. People are not impressed.

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5 Responses to Integrity is All or Nothing

  1. Chris Hingston January 7, 2008 at 10:09 pm #

    Yes Clarke did actually did legally take the catch (TV relays of catches have never once been conclusive).

    Yes the umpire did give Ganguly out, not Ponting.

    No rules of the game were broken.

    Yes the umpiring was a digrace, Bucknor is past his useby date.

    No Kumble’s assessment of how Australia payed the game was wrong in the extreme (he should have had a cold shower and taken a deep breath before that press conference).

    Yes Singh has been suspended by the govening body of the test match and is entitled to an appeal.

    No India IS NOT entitled to try and force the referee to reinstate Singh on appeal by applying India’s considerable political cricketing muscle.

    Yes to walk or not is a vexed issue and any professional will tell you there many desicions that don’t go your way and you don’t have the option to stay in that situation(re: Ponting in the first innings). Thats a decision for the umpires not the players.

    Integrity? There can be no questionng Ponting’s integrity. Asian cricket leaders on the other hand lack much of it.


  2. JP January 7, 2008 at 10:14 pm #

    Tough call here as the umpiring was absolutely abysmal. If a player is given out incorrectly in one innings it is hard to expect them to walk the next innings. However if umpiring was up to standard then it should be the standard!

    In a tight match the third umpire must be used. Most players will in all honestly probably think that they have caught the ball simply because of the impact upon the result of the match. The fairer system is to use the third umpire and removes the uncertainty.

    Racial Prejudice/offensive behaviour is common everywhere….even in the work place. The problem is that quite often we don’t know that we are offending someone until they tell us. Once told then it’s up to us to accept that we have offended someone and not do it again, regardless of our lack of understanding.

    It’s the same on the cricket field AND Australians are far from perfect in that regards as well… 😉

    Makes you wonder how professional adult men can act like such “twats” sometimes. They just need to grow up and get on with it!

  3. Belinda Pearson January 7, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    The game is supposed to be a gentleman’s game played by gentlemen.

    I did not see one gentleman out on that field during the last match. It was a disgrace.

    I play cricket, and I have never seen an umpire ask the fielding captain if a catch has been taken, why would you do that?!

    Walking, I go back to the gentlemen comment. Symonds was definitely out in the first innings, he turned around and watched the ball go into the keeper’s gloves, you know you hit it, walk! In the footage of the cricket that is a little before my time, you never see a player stand there when they know they are out, they go.

    What are they teaching the kids of today? The next generation of cricketers all saw the display that went on during the match, and it will be seen on Saturday and Sunday mornings now, which is a great shame.

    The test match was a great shame, and I am really disappointed that those that are paid extremely excessive amount of money, then complain they play too much cricket, have to act in such a manner.

  4. Chris Hingston January 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm #

    Belinda if you beleive that international cricket is still a gentleman’s game played on the village green then your argument is fine.

    Sadly I think your view is severely outdated in that the test cricket we watch to day is in no way related to the view you have on it.

    The game of cricket played in the park for fun is not the same game played by people whose whole livelihood depends on a decision (good or bad)or two. That is their business as batsmen to make as many runs as they can to ensure their salary and their future. Maybe that sounds bloody minded but international cricket not just a game anymore, it is a mulit-billion dollar corporation.



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