May 8, 1999
Any which way but lose
With the World Cup just two weeks away, let us be proactive and predict the new controversies which may surface at the mega event. Off late, it has been noticed that the think tank of different cricket teams are coming up with newer and innovative strategies to tackle the opposition in a match. The most prominent of which was experienced in the recently-concluded Australia - West Indies series. The hot topic being 'the bowler after delivering the ball stands in the middle of the pitch blocking the batsman, who has stroked the ball and is attempting a run. In such cases it has been noticed that the batsmen, almost always, collides with the bowler, and, in more cases than one, is run out. Such an incident had occurred in the sixth ODI between Australia and the West Indies. Sherwin Campbell of the West Indies had collided with Brendon Julian of Australia and was eventually run out, which resulted in crowd trouble and subsequent disruption of play.
Our own Sachin Tendulkar also had collided with Shoaib Akhtar of Pakistan and a controversial run out had resulted. There were instances of the similar nature in the recently-concluded Sharjah Tri Series, where the bowler had elbowed the batsmen causing a few heated exchanges between the bowler and the batsmen.
To analyse the bowler's actions on the field, let us consider the psychological aspect also. The bowler is upset that his good delivery has been stroked easily for runs and a knee-jerk reaction from him to try and stop the batsmen from running. Secondly, such a reaction appears quite natural to the unsuspecting spectators, but, in most cases, it could be a meticulously executed plan to oust the batsman. In order to avoid collision, the batsman has an option of going around the bowler, but this may result in wasting precious seconds. And we all know, that in this era of high tech frame-by-frame replays every second counts!! The question arises whether the bowler's actions are legitimate or not?
This is a debatable point and we may have to scan the cricket Bible for this issue. But one thing is very sure, it is a highly unethical practice which might disrepute the great game of cricket. Can I request the ICC and the World Cup managing committee to be on the look out for such cases and handle them in the very best manner, thus maintaining the clean image of the cricket World Cup.
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