Orville Higgins | Much ado about nothing!
I am a big fan of Shakespeare, and one of my favourite Shakespearean plays is Much Ado About Nothing. Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing undying love for each other. Another lady, Claudia, is tricked into not responding to the advances of her lover, Hero, on the altar on the false presumption that she had been unfaithful. After a series of twists and turns, Benedick and Beatrice come together to clear the air and make everyone aware of the lies and deceit. In the end, both couples get married. 'All's Well That Ends Well' could have been another title.
I couldn't help thinking about this Shakespeare play when I saw how the events of the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots-Barbados Tridents CPL clash unfolded a few days ago. Evin Lewis of the Patriots franchise was blitzing away and needed three for his hundred. With the scores tied, Tridents captain Kieron Pollard bowled a no-ball. It also turned out that it may have also been a wide, as Lewis would have found it difficult to get bat to ball on the bouncer.
The Patriots won the match on the no-ball and Lewis missed out on the chance of a hundred. Thereafter, it would appear that Pollard had somehow tried to assassinate someone.
Now we hear that Pollard was unsportsmanlike, and was playing against the spirit of the game. Journalists and the public alike have made disparaging comments about Pollard. I was disappointed by my colleagues in the media. The very media who said Pollard was not playing in the true spirit of the game were themselves being unfair in jumping to conclusions that it was deliberate, a claim Pollard has denied. How on earth could anyone prove that he did it on purpose?
Waste of time
The noise being made on social media and on call-in sports shows was of such that the CPL has now ordered an investigation. What for? What is there to investigate? This is nothing but a grand waste of time.
Pollard has subsequently come out and said it wasn't deliberate. He said that he was merely striving to bowl a short effort ball, and that may have contributed to him overstepping. He pointed out in an interview that in the same game, he had also overstepped when attempting to bowl a short ball and that the resulting free hit was clobbered for six. That should be the end of that. No investigation can prove otherwise.
I have heard people talking that there is precedent, and that the CPL has a right to investigate. Yes, Suruj Randiv was charged and found guilty of doing the same thing against Virender Sehwag. The circumstances were, however, different. There were audiotapes with evidence of the captain, Dilshan, telling Randiv to bowl a no-ball. There was, therefore, evidence that it was predetermined. No such thing happened here.
Therefore, we must rely on Pollard's word. He says it wasn't deliberate. Move on.
But so what if it was deliberate? What if Pollard had bowled a no-ball on purpose? What is the crime? What if he didn't want the batsman to get the hundred off his bowling and preferred to bowl a no-ball? What's the big deal?
Cricket rules state that the penalty for doing that is adding one extra run to the batting team, and that the ball must be rebowled. Why should he be sanctioned any further?
Running on to the pitch is illegal. If you do it deliberately, there are actions that the umpires can take. If a bowler does it too often, he may be prohibited from bowling in that innings. If we find that a bowler, in his follow-through, runs down the wicket twice, do we investigate him for unsportsmanlike behaviour? Why should the bowler not have an option to bowl a no-ball anytime he feels like? That's an extra run plus a free hit, plus an extra ball to bowl. That is punishment enough.
Many of us were simply caught up in the amazing stroke play of Lewis and wanted to see him making his hundred. Our disappointment that he didn't has made many of us lose our sense of reason. Shakespeare didn't need Benedick and Beatrice as his main characters. He could have used Pollard and Lewis. This was a classic case of much ado about nothing!
- Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org