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'Walking fad will end in tears'
October 20, 2004 17:53 IST
Australia's "new walking fad" is evoking criticism as well as applause in the cricketing circles with opinion divided on whether such a practice should be encouraged or not.
Former England captain turned commentator Mike Atherton says this fad "will end in tears" for the Aussies and even accused them of double standards.
While commending the decisions of Adam Gilchrist, Michael Kasprowicz, Jason Gillespie and Indians Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh to walk in the second Test, Atherton said the players would become prisoners of their actions and were now duty bound to keep walking.
"And will those committed walkers be prepared to walk everytime even when a tight game or series is on the line? I hope so, beacuse it is worse to be a selective walker than a non-walker," Atherton wrote in Daily Telegraph.
"After all, selective walking is really just about conning the umpire into believing you are an honest man and so benefitting from such a reputation."
Atherton said walking opened the Australians to "accusations they have been far from consistent on this tour".
He said in the first Test Irfan Pathan and Parthiv Patel were victims of poor caught-behind decisions when the men behind the wicket should have known neither batsman touched the ball. Atherton also questioned why Australian players in front of the wicket appealed for an lbw decision against Virender Sehwag in Bangalore after a blatant inside edge and why, if the spirit of fair play meant so much to the Australians, the batsman was not recalled.
"How far are they prepared to go? Or, as Ian Chappell said when I asked him for his reaction: 'Hypocricy is alive and well."
Atherton said in his playing days he was a "confirmed non-walker and could easily live with the fact that I was asking an umpire to perform a job he is paid to do. I didn't, and still don't, regard that as cheating."
Former Australian captain Allan Border commended the actions of the players, but fell short of endorsing the trend in his column.
"I believe, as do many others, that umpiring decisions tend to even themselves out over the years," Border said.
"I am of the opinion that just as the batsman and bowlers have a job, the umpires have a specific job of making decisions and it is best to leave it to them.
"But if both of the teams have indeed entered into an agreement of walking and as long as everyone involved honours it, it's fine."
But a report by the AAP newsagency said it appeared that there had been no such pact. The Australians have reportedly discussed the issue and decided each man can make his own decision.
"Kasprowicz watched umpire David Shepherd reject the appeal and then spun on his heal and walked off," it said.
The report also said Shepherd had praised Kasprowicz and encouraged others to follow his lead and did not think that the honesty-first policy would make a mockery of an umpire's decision.
"It's a tremendous thing when a batsman walks. Any batsman who doesn't walk, he knows he is doing the wrong thing," Shepherd was quoted as saying in the report.
The umpire rubbished suggestions that umpires were humiliated by such a gesture.
"Nonsense. The game is bigger than the umpires," he said.