Tony Becca | What’s all the fuss about?
Ever since the early days of cricket, bowlers, especially fast bowlers, or those running in from far, have bowled no-balls and batsmen have been left stranded a few runs short of the coveted century.
In fact, fast bowlers have been known to ignore the rules sometimes, to the extent that Neville Cardus, later Sir Neville, once expressed surprise when he learnt that Frank 'Typhoon' Tyson, the fastest bowler in the world in the 1950s, was really a schoolteacher by profession.
Why then is everyone making a fuss over the fact that Kieron Pollard, the Trinidadian, bowled a no-ball to Ervin Lewis, the Trinidadian, who was on 97 in the CPL T20 match between the Barbados Tridents and the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots on September 3 at Kensington Oval?
He has denied it, but in the opinion of the fans, it was a deliberate attempt by Pollard to prevent Lewis from getting a century.
It was considered unsporting, especially as Lewis was hot, very hot.
Replying to the Tridents' total 128 runs, the Patriots raced along at 50 without loss off 20 deliveries with Christopher Gayle on 20 and Lewis on 29.
Lewis later smashed 50 off 19 balls, the Patriots hopped to a record 105 for the power play off six overs, and Lewis dashed to 97 off 31 balls with Gayle on 22 at 128 without loss.
Lewis had not only outgunned Gayle throughout the innings, but the figures showed Lewis blasting 68 runs while Gayle added a mere two runs towards the end of the innings.
WAS IT DELIBERATE?
The question is, however, did Pollard deliberately bowl a no-ball in an effort to prevent Lewis from reaching the century?
I do not know.
What I do know, however, is that I do not believe his explanation, which followed - an explanation during which he said nothing really, including that he did not deliberately try to rob Lewis of the century in that way, that he was the captain, that he wanted to win, that he had to set an example for his players, and that he would do anything to win.
I also know that Lewis could not have reached his century as his team would have won the match just before that happened.
For those who did not know it, but should have known it, and to those who do not remember it, the rule, which was changed somewhere around 1984, says that in the hunt for victory, only the number of runs needed for the victory are counted.
That is the rule. It is as simple as that.
At 128 without loss, only one run was needed for victory, and no-ball or no no-ball, Lewis, on 97, could not reach the century, even had he managed to reach the ball, which flew over his head, and had hit it to the boundary.
On top of everything, even before 1984, it would have been better had Pollard bowled a wide. It would have been difficult for the batsman to reach the ball and to hit it.
In bowling a no-ball, the batsman could have flashed at it, probably blasted it to or over the boundary, and before the change in the rule, he would have scored four runs, or six runs.
I was at Sabina Park in 1994 when fast bowler Cameron Cuffy of the Windward Islands bowled a wide down the leg-side to Robert Samuels, 99 not out, to keep from scoring a century in a Geddes Grant Shield encounter.
That was considered as not being "cricket", but many saw it as plain and simple gamesmanship, or so it appeared.
The Windward Islands had scored 200 for six, Jamaica were cruising home with Samuels and Frederick Redwood. 52 not out, going well. With Samuels in sight of a century, however, and the runs running out on him, and with many overs remaining, every effort was made to give him the strike.
The Windward Islands, however, were doing everything to keep Samuels off strike.
Suddenly, Jamaica reached to within one run of levelling the scores, Redwood was on strike, 4.5 overs remained, Cuffy was bowling. He served up a full toss, and Redwood pushed it away for a single.
Up came Samuels to the northern end, he was 99. One run was needed for his century, one run was needed for Jamaica's victory, and Cuffy bowled the next ball way down the leg-side to leave Samuels stranded on 99.
That was deliberate, and there was no doubt it. At least it appeared so.
What was important, however, is that whether Cuffy knew the rule or not, he played within the rules, he won the little interplay, and that, even to Samuels, it appeared, was that.