Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Foster's Fairplay | England's Root was robbed

Published:Wednesday | January 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMLaurie Foster
Joe Root

Foster's Fairplay continues to grapple with various opinions as to the true meaning of the cricketing term Man of the Match (MOM). What are the ingredients which when considered together, cause the adjudicator to decide which of the 22 players or whoever else for that matter, should be so honoured?

There are several which have come to the ear of this columnist. A few are quite ludicrous. For instance, there was once a game where the decision was that the honour should go to the umpire who sent a team's number three, four and five batsmen packing for reasons other than cricket. On another occasion, it went to the groundsman who prepared the pitch in a way that gave an unfair winning advantage to the home team's two spin bowlers.

After many deliberations, the definition with which Foster's Fairplay is most comfortable is the one which says that "the title should go to the player whose performance has the most significant bearing on the outcome of a game." This now raises some very interesting points which only stir the pot of further debate and controversy. Should the feat be or should it not be a statistical one? Does the player have to be on the winning side? If the match is drawn, should a player deemed to have contributed more than any other to the stalemate be considered?

Let us first look at the statistical situation in a drawn game. A player might have scored a double-century in quick time on day one, thus dwarfing all other figures on show. However, someone on his opponents' team occupies the crease for the entire final day and scores 70 not out in a dull and dreary innings. should that player, having had such a potent input in the outcome, be given the award over his more illustrious rival? Although in some quarters, it is considered that the MOM should be from the team that wins, that argument comes crashing down if there is a performance from the loser's team that is compellingly superior.




All this argument leads to the first one day international (ODI) between Australia and England, which the visitors took on a canter from the Aussies, who had flogged them 4-0 in the Ashes Test series. To remind, England won the toss and elected to take the field. Australia posted 304 for eight wickets, sparked by a shot-filled 107 by opening batsman Aaron Finch. In reply, England were off to a flying start with opener Jason Roy firing from all cylinders before strolling through the middle overs, after losing two partners; he simmered before picking it up later to take his team to the brink of victory, finally bowing out on 180. England ended on 308 for five wickets.

The adjudicator gave mention to Finch but settled on Roy as the Man of the Match. The decision-maker had, in this columnist's view, totally ignored a crucial component of Roy's innings-and that was the part played by Test captain Joe Root, who guided the action with 91 not out, securing the five-wicket victory. Roy was not out on 91 when the umpire adjudged him to be leg before wicket to a ball from Adam Zampa, the leg spinner. It hit him outside the off stump while he was playing a stroke and was correctly ruled not out on a review lodged with the third umpire. Roy had accepted the standing umpire's decision and was on his way to the pavilion, albeit having only just started his walk. Were it not for the insistence of Root, he would have been out and this could have had a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

In that scenario, all of the plethora of batting records recorded by Roy, and including the highest ODI score both at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and against Australia, would not have happened.

Foster's Fairplay's vote for the Man of the Match is Joe Root, as it was his adamant protest that brought Roy back to the wicket to continue his journey of setting up the England victory.

The England Test captain was robbed.

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