Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Unethical run-out

Published:Tuesday | February 9, 2016 | 2:01 AM

Foster's Fairplay finds some of the responses coming after the match-deciding run-out incident in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 World Cup to be quite sickening.

This columnist was grown up with values that show a clear distinction between what can be accepted or not in the social space. With necessary adjustments to address the passage of time, they should be cast in stone as standards of behaviour to be patented and patterned by all, unless the plan is to succumb to the societal savagery that has crept, unmolested, into what is taken as the norms of today.

How many of the present champions of uncultured, unpolished, and uncouth acts understand what it means to say 'it is not cricket'?

It was a game that would decide which of two teams would advance to the quarter-final. The contestants were Zimbabwe and the West Indies. West Indies fast bowler Keemo Paul, bowling the last ball, with three runs for the Zimbabweans to win, removed the bails with the non-striker's bat on the line.

The appeal went up the umpires conferred and asked if the fielding captain wished to sustain the appeal. He was told yes, the innings ending with West Indies victors by two runs.

The question must be asked: If it were a matter solely of the Laws of the Game, why was there a consultation before the upraised finger?

accurate statistics

The aftermath sees an avalanche of commentary. Without the benefit of accurate statistics, the feeling is that there are more supporters than those who are talking against what this columnist sees as seizing a win with no regard for what is ethical or not.

Reluctantly, this columnist is forced to question personal belief as to which of the many sports persons heard on the matter can sustain their moral credibility.

For a few, even their knowledge and understanding of cricket are cast under a shadow.

The country is going through a period of falling standards in almost every phase of its existence. Opinions in the sporting context have not escaped the slide.

To emphasise, there was the pain in hearing a popular and highly regarded sports journalist invited by a female host on a programme on the station where he plies his trade. The host had confessed a lack of appreciation of the finer points of cricket and was seeking guidance, while expressing her own rejection of the run-out act in terms quite base.

She must have been shocked to hear someone she saw as a mentor say, "moral codes do not apply here", words to the effect that suggested that one should 'do anything to get ahead', as well as his unashamed redefining of the basic and universally accepted tenets of sportsmanship.

He even went on to recount the incident in a 50-over game where an Australian bowler went "underarm" - call it "underhand'' if you will - to deny a New Zealand batsman a six hit, which would have given his team victory.

There was worldwide disdain for that act. Plus, from this corner, came utter astonishment and further loss of respect when the argument proceeded to naming the errant bowler 'one of the greatest of all time'.

important win

If all this rejection of 'the decent thing' is to be accepted to go for that all-important win, let us be clear that there are other ideals that also have to be jettisoned.

Saying that, let us appeal for 'handled ball' when a batsman plays a ball at his feet and in good faith picks it up and tosses it back to the bowler. Let the batsmen go for an extra run when a throw-in hits one of them and ricochets out of the reach of the immediate fieldsman.

It is hard to believe that this is the same sport where, in a bygone era, a fieldsman on the boundary, far away from the seeing eye, was asked to verify if a catch was taken cleanly or the ball had crossed the line and his call accepted.

If the annoying and irrelevant reminders of 'it is in the rules' are countenanced, given the circumstances, then there can only be one sad conclusion: The game is indeed 'gone to the dogs'.

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