In the current IPL season (IPL V), I saw an IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers (April 9th). Mumbai took the match to the very last ball and sealed it with a six. Great match - and can be a perfect advert for this season of IPL. Alas, this match will be remembered for a different reason altogether - Mumbai Indians' captain Harbhajan Singh literally yelling at the umpires for referring Sangakkara's dismissal, umpires referred, decision reversed and Sangakkara was given out. Justice delivered, you might say. I agree. Kumara Sangakkara was clearly out. But another thing that was clear was the fact that umpire declared "Not Out". Umpires decision is always the final one (or so I assumed). As per the rules, umpires have the option to refer the decision, only if he is not sure. In the case mentioned, the umpire was totally sure. The ball was replayed on the giant screen, Harbhajan saw it, the world saw it. That's when the unsporting behavior took over. Yelling, shouting and finger pointing was uncalled for. Not only the captain, but the bowler (Munaf Patel) joined the party (see pic below).
These incidents happen across the world in different sports. Soccer, for example. Infact all the sports where a judgement needs to be made by an impartial person.
|Image courtesy: indian-cricket-team-updates.blogspot.com|
My intention is not to rant about it and create an issue out of it. It seems even the players have moved on! My intention is to visualize some future scenarios when yelling can lead to the desired results -
1. Leg Before Wicket (LBW): Bowler bowls a legitimate delivery, ball hits the pad, bowler appeals, umpire gives not-out. Its a common scenario. Now imagine the replay is shown on the giant screen. Bowler (and the bowling captain) feels the batsman should be given out. They approach the umpire and starts arguing. It's followed by lots of yelling and temporarily stopping the match till their demands are met. Umpire finally relents (poor guy) and despite his wishes, he refers it to the third umpire. The damage has already been done to the game - does it really matter what the verdict is?
2. Clean bowled: One ball to go, 2 to win. Bowler bowls a legitimate delivery, ball hits the wicket - clean bowled. Common isn't it? Now imagine the batsman isn't convinced. He thinks the bowler over-stepped. He starts arguing with the umpire. The other team is equally pissed off! Umpire relents - asks for the third umpire's decision. Replay is shown on the giant screen. The bowler's front leg is on the line - and as we already know, the line belongs to the umpire! What would be the verdict - but given the sportsmanship around, does the verdict really matter?
3. Batsman blocked by the fielding team and he is run-out: This is a clear case of sportsmanship over rule-book. Indian team has also earned brownie points in the past recalling batsmen after such incidents. Now imagine the same incident happening and the bowling team appeals and the batsman is given out. The batsman expects the opposite team to recall him, which doesn't happen in this case. Can the batsman appeal to the umpire now? Will the umpire refer the decision to the third umpire? Or will the third umpire reverse the decision? But honestly, does the verdict really matter?
I think we are moving from an era (where sportsmanship was valued and defined a sportsperson and his team) to an era where winning is everything even at the cost of the spirit of the game.
So much for sportsmanship!
PS: Sarcasm totally intended and written purely for the love of the game.