Friday, May 09, 2014

More dissent and less punishment will spoil Cricket beyond repair

Cricket is known to be a Gentleman’s game. A game where players are fiercely competing for their respective team. A game where a bowler is expected to pose a challenge to the batsman with the fielders supporting him and the batman is expected to respond to the challenge – as simple as it sounds. Then began an era where bowlers of some teams started foul mouthing and provoking batsmen with their needless comments. Some of the greats overcame this new weapon and became legends (like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid) whereas many succumbed to it and are now either retired or are out of the international scene.

The new weapon (sledging) was working for the bowlers in a batsmen dominated sport. The Cricket administrators ignored the banter possibly for need of more TRPs thereby resulting in more revenue. The young cricketers started adopting it as it was perceived as “passion for the game”. New and young fans of Cricket loved the antics in an otherwise boring bat-and-ball contest. As a result, what started as a small friendly banter was allowed to grow by all the custodians of the game.

The bubble finally burst on 6th May 2014.

Image courtesy - midday
What exactly happened – In an IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mitchell Starc bowled a short pitched delivery towards Kieron Pollard knowing the batsman has difficulty hitting the short pitched stuff. Pollard missed and out came the ever-reliant sledging weapon. Pollard apparently handled it well. When Starc was about to bowl his next ball, Pollard backed off. Instead of dropping his run-up, Starc angled his delivery towards the batsman and almost hit him on his leg. Pollard reacted by appearing to throw his bat towards the bowler. The bat slipped out of his hand. A heated exchange followed. Both the umpires were literally begging the players to stop. 

After-effects of the incident – The match referee fined Pollard 75% of his match fees and Mitchell Starc 50% of his. Wonderful! That's all we need to remove this cancer growing within, isn't it? (sic).

What experts say – Harsha Bhogle, in one of his article, suggested the introduction of a Red card system in Cricket similar to the one used in Soccer. It could mean banning the player(s) immediately for the game and the next. This, if implemented, will have a huge impact for the match currently being played. Assume if Pollard and Starc were immediately banned after the incident, Mumbai Indians would have fielded only 10 players for the entire duration of 20 overs and Bangalore would have been stripped of Starc’s batting. The impact will be much more on the bowling team. Mumbai will miss Pollard’s bowling and fielding presence a lot more than Bangalore will miss Starc’s (a bowler) batting. Harsha Bhogle has suggested an apt solution, but a card based penalty system cannot be adapted as-is in Cricket. It needs to be modified for Cricket. Here's how it can be done - 

What should happen – First and foremost, the current system of penalizing players is flawed. Fining players 50% or 75% of match fees has not worked in the past and will not work in the future either. Consider this – Pollard will play for a minimum of 14 matches this IPL season. 75% of match fees in a single match will amount to barely 5.3% of total season fees. If we also consider the advertisement income they stand to gain and the loss of 5.3% will immediately vanish. No wonder the sledging and provocation has flourished despite penalties. I feel a logic similar to the bouncer rule should be applied here. Once a player shows dissent for the first time, he receives a warning from the umpire (akin to yellow card in soccer). If he shows dissent again in the same match, umpire will notify the player and his captain that he has been banned for the next match along with losing a certain % of match fees. If the player continues to cross the limits in the same match, his ban can be extended to multiple matches after consulting with the match referee. There will also be an arbitration mechanism to challenge the ban. However, this type of rule will ensure the player takes stock of the situation as the ban will impact his team as well. He can show dissent once till he receives the first warning. Post the warning, he will have no choice but to mellow down.

A little bit of antics is harmless as it makes the game interesting to watch. But an an administrator, you should not allow the players to cross the proverbial line. Both Starc and Pollard crossed that line bringing disrepute to the game. All we need is a strict rule that punishes the culprits and ensures the future of Cricket is safe.


  1. I must have been living under a rock to not know this!!!
    This seriously happened? :O
    and how can fining remove anything...they r bloody rich anyway!

    1. Yup. All this happened. But fine was all they got. IPL was shown in a negative light. Hopefully, strict punishment will be introduced..

  2. The players should be banned from playing, instead of fines.. they can afford any amount they are paid so much. I would say ban them for 3 matches and if it again happens DOUBLE it .. and so on ..

    It hurts when you dont get money in your pocket , they wont get paid if they dont play ..

    Agree with you


All yours..

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