Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cricketing Gentlemen

Cricket is not only a game of the cliched 'glorious uncertainties' but also a game of glorious irrationality. I know of few other games where you have rules of how a batsman can be out and, yet, some of those rules ought not to be brought into action because of something called 'gentlemanly conduct'. It has been the norm to assume that if, as per the rule, you have the right to claim a batsman's wicket, claiming the wicket under such circumstances should automatically be assumed to be gentlemanly. Not so in Cricket!

Trying to derive a logic for why such conduct should be ungentlemanly can drive you mad unless you are so steeped in cricket tradition that your logical faculties are permanently in abeyance when it comes to cricket. Take the case of a Rahul Dravid getting run out because he has failed to ground his bat even though the bat is well beyond the crease. The fielding side can claim his wicket without any qualms about ungentlemanly conduct and the only opprobrium that shall be heaped will be on Dravid for not having grounded his bat knowing full well that he can be run out if he fails to do so.

On the other hand, if the runner is half-way down the pitch before the ball is bowled and the bowler runs him out, he is out as per the rules. But how ungentlemanly of the bowling side to run him out under such circumstances!! The rule may claim that the runner is out but the fielding side should act like gentlemen, warn the runner and only then run him out. Why don't the rules say that such should be the case? Should the batsman not know that he can be run out if he does not keep his bat grounded till the ball is delivered? Well, no gentleman would ask such questions!! Thus, the case of Dravid, even when it was a genuine mistake, is clearly Dravid's fault but the case of the runner, even if he intended to cheat by deliberately backing up too far, is a case of ungentlemanly conduct by the fielding side!! No non-cricketer can be expected to understand the mores of cricketers!

More surprisingly, this happens in Australia, where sledging has been raised to a fine art. Thus, calling your opponents names is more gentlemanly conduct than running out the runner as per the laid out rules of cricket. I haven't yet seen the cricketing rule book on sledging. About the only thing I know is that 'maa ki' is acceptable but 'monkey' is not!

Strange are the ways of cricketing gentlemen! Mere mortals cannot hope to understand them!


  1. Ha ha ha. I myself have wondered why running out the non-striker is such a big deal. The runner is trying to get an advantage by taking a start, so he should be ready for the consequences. He is taking a chance. So if he gets caught he must pay. In baseball there are batsmen who specialize in stealing bases and it is very much gentlemanly to run them out :)


  2. I don't think its a case of gifting laurels at the highest level. Today's players are professional players and the stakes are high. One mistake can cause a side to be knocked out of a tournament. It's not like these rules are applied only in international matches. The same rules are in place in the domestic games as well and the cricketers who go on to represent the team at the international level are expected to be the best in the country. So if they get out due to something like not grounding their bat in time or backing way too much, it is solely their mistake.

    1. Precisely what I intend saying. I am not seeking that a Rahul Dravid be called 'not out' under those circumstances...only that, if he is out so is anyone who backs up too far and declaring him out is not the act of a cad!