Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Randiv ban

It was one of those triangular series - featuring New Zealand along with India and Sri Lanka, who have faced each other 34,987,598,347 times in the last year. Okay, maybe a couple of times less.

Sri Lanka posted a modest 170, and Sehwag put up a very matured show to help India reach 166/4 in 34 overs. With only five runs to go and Sehwag on 99, Sangakkara handed the ball to Hewa Kaluhalamullage Suraj Randiv Kaluhalamulla, popularly known by his third and fourth names (I would have loved it, had it been the second and fifth names, though).

The first ball keeps low, beats Sehwag and Sangakkara, and runs away for four byes. Mind you, the press had later accused Sanga of letting it go deliberately. This means that after Sehwag had missed it, Sanga had made up in mind to let it go. Which makes Sanga the best wicketkeeper in the history of the game, since he had to take the decision in about 0.1 seconds (had Sehwag edged it he would have caught it, not let it go, so it was the fastest reflex action ever).

Anyway, no one is really bothered about Sanga. No one wants to touch the really important ones when there's a scapegoat handy, isn't it?

Randiv followed up with two innocuous dot balls, and then, this happened:


Let me make something clear before I proceed here: I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the no-ball was deliberate. He had done it on purpose to stop Sehwag from scoring a hundred. There are two aspects that I would want to point out, though:

How serious an offence was this?
As per the Indian media, Randiv has taken cricket to a new ebb. Apparently this was an atrocious act, preventing Sehwag from getting a hundred. He should have allowed Sehwag to get it, as per the Indian media, and his act was, according to them, something really pathetic.

Why?

I mean, are there many bowlers in this world, who would actually have wanted that hundred to happen? I cannot understand the logic - why should Randiv have allowed that hundred to happen? He has not done anything that goes against the laws of the game. I know that there's an added bit to it called the spirit of the game, but that probably has already been registered among The Top Ten Vague Concepts of All Time.

What spirit? I can't even bowl a no-ball when I feel like it? Someone is on 99, and I have to bowl at his bat, in order to allow him to get that one run? WHY? Can I not even overstep at will? Isn't that putting too much restriction on the bowler? You cannot bowl a no-ball if someone is on 99 and the team needs one to win - I mean, how ridiculous is that? What next? If someone has got four wickets, can't the last pair end up falling to another bowler or get run out? What is wrong with that?

Randiv didn't do anything wrong, in my opinion. Even if he had, he did apologise to Sehwag (and Sanga to Kirsten), they had accepted the apologies, and that should be the end of it.

It didn't.

The media made a farce of the entire incident. It was blown out of proportions, and the poor guy, who did something that was actually an on-the-spur thing and had later apologised for it, was made to look like the worst villain in the history of the game. The Sidhus went hyper on air (I'm not sure of this, but such incidents always involve Sidhu, standing up in the studio and shouting meaningless banters). Bedi commented that Randiv should be banned for five matches (he actually had a right to: at Karachi in 1978 Gavaskar had batted out of his skin to score 111 and 137 to place India in a position that he thought safe; Bedi decided not to bowl negative, got smashed by Miandad and Imran, and lost the test for us thanks to some cavalier tomofoolery).

Fingers were cast at Sri Lanka for not allowing Ganguly to score a hundred at Kandy or Tendulkar to score a hundred at Cuttack. What we conveniently forgot that in the first occasion Kaif leg-glanced once from Vaas for four to leave Ganguly stranded, and in the second one, Karthik hit a straight six off Randiv to put Tendulkar almost out of contention. How about doing a bit of research before you accuse the innocent, folks?

Then the unthinkables started to happen. Sri Lanka Cricket actually announced that it was about to put an enquiry into the matter. An enquiry to find out WHAT? The fact that the no-ball was deliberate? AFTER Randiv has confessed and apologised for it? What's the point? Putting up an enquiry commission that would provide a PowerPoint presentation on the issue that the world already knows about?

And then, they put a one-match ban on the poor guy. This was the same board that stood by Muralitharan and his bowling action a decade back, setting us an amazing example of how to support your players when the world is criticising it, ultimately resulting in making ICC change the cut-off margin for throwing. I suppose you need to have had so many wickets, or have a Ranatunga backing you for the board to be behind you.

But then, SLC has had financial help from BCCI in the past, so they axed an apologetic innocent youngster to satisfy BCCI and it's muscle power. After all, who cares about an upcoming talent when BCCI can easily ban all Sri Lankans from the IPL, had SLC not kept them happy?

And still they call this the most noble game of all.

Should the law be changed?
The other aspect, though, is about the law. If you ask me, it should be changed. The ball did go down as one faced by Sehwag (it was the 100th ball he faced in the innings), so the runs he scored should have been counted as well. ICC's point of view is that the match gets over as soon as the umpire calls it a no-ball; but shouldn't the outcome of the delivery be important as well?

This leads me to this match: with Sussex having one run to win, Mark Alleyne bowled a wide, and Mark Robinson was stumped by Jack Russell. Interestingly, the run counted, Sussex won, and Robinson was considered as out. If this could have happened, why cannot Sehwag be awarded the six, or for that matter, why would the outcome of the entire delivery not be considered?

***

An interesting observation by a friend: had Randiv conceded that six, Sri Lanka's net run rate after the match would've been -1.68. Their net run rate, after conceding that no-ball, is -1.56. If all the teams get tied on points and Sri Lanka just about scrapes through on net run rate, Randiv shall possibly be hailed as a hero for displaying supreme strategic skills.

5 comments:

  1. i do agree with you to a large extent. things have been blown out of proportion. not because i think what he did is not suspension-worthy, but because the proportion in question has been measured in a different measure in the past. for example, how about fielders claiming catches even after flooring them (Ponting comes to mind, immediately)? isn't that against the same spirit of the game? how about this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W491GPcpRIw
    why aren't these guys banned? given that they have not been, i do agree that Randiv got the wrong end of the stick.

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  2. I also concur with the second point, that ICC should change its rules. If that happened, this match would have gone down as the first instance where the chasing team scored 7 runs more than the defending team (except vague duckworth lewis matches).
    On the other hand, in my opinion a bowler should always try to get the batsman out, so I would have been happier if he bowled a wide (at least to get Sehwag out stumped). Sehwag's six was the cleanest of hits, mind it!!!

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  3. "I know that there's an added bit to it called the spirit of the game"

    "And still they call this the most noble game of all."

    Tor blog er duto line. Ektu contrasting lagche na ki? Onekta like ICC double standard (out is out and six is not a six)

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  4. uff abar cricket!jalali dekhchhi.

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  5. BTW, the last ball was counted as a valid ball but it was still a no ball.

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