The Roar
The Roar

Peter Hunt

Roar Rookie

Joined September 2018

9.4k

Views

13

Published

142

Comments

Like so many other Australian Cricket fans, I was mortified by the ball tampering scandal in Cape Town in March 2018. It made me question my life-long passion for Cricket and my steadfast support for the national team. And so, combining my passions for cricket, the law and writing, I embarked on a search for `The Spirit of Cricket'; one cricket tragic's attempt to define `the line'. Does Cricket have a distinct spirit? Can we define 'the line'? How are the values Cricket holds dear different from any other sport?

Published

Comments

The controversy notwithstanding, I think England deserved to celebrate. They played some great cricket and are entitled to celebrate their triumph.
And in 1999 – when Australia tied with South Africa to proceed to the WC Final – the Aussie players were certainly celebrating!
As was I…!

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Thanks Cari, it’s a fair cop!
My thoughts on the spirit of cricket are clearly aspirational and are unlikely to ever be realised. I am not accusing Ben Stokes of being a bad sport. What I am describing, I think, is a exalted state of sportsmanship, which only really exists in my dreams.
(Although I do recall Pat Rafter once conceding a ball was in – when the linesman called it out – on match point.)
My mindset in this instance, was based on the convention that the batsman do not run in these circumstances when the ball is deflected into open field and stops short of the boundary. I pose the rhetorical question; why is the convention not observed when the ball is deflected to the boundary? In my article, I identify one of the Laws which could be used in the circumstances.
It is actually a fascinating question, what Stokes would have done – in the extreme circumstances of trying to win a World Cup in the final over – had the ball not been deflected all the way to the boundary.
Would the batsman have run, despite the convention not to?
Would his teammates have beat the crap out of him had he not run and England lost on the final ball?
We will never know. But’s it’s a fascinating thing to contemplate.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

That’s a really cynical and unworthy sentiment, Kurt. England played some fine cricket throughout the tournament and deserve to be World Champions.

After the emotions, you have to admit England always had it in them

I agree that the WC Final was a magnificent contest which will long be remembered. Like so many sporting classics, it’s the sense of injustice which and the Shakespearean tragedy of the circumstances which bring out the raw emotion.
Had crucial LBW decisions gone NZ’s way? Had Boult been able to toss the ball to Guptill before stepping on the rope to dismiss Stokes in the second last over? Had Guptill’s throw evaded Stokes’ bat to run him out off the third last ball. Had the deflection from Guptill’s bat gone straight to a Kiwi fielder rather than to the boundary? Had Guptill’s shot from the last ball of the super over found the fence. Had the English fielder fumbled the pick up, allowing Guptill to scamper home. Had the rules for deciding the winner after a tied super over been fairer.
Moments in time cemented in the memory: and the Aussies weren’t even playing!
Ultimately, I agree with Riccardo that England’s focused determination to win this event deserves respect.
The controversies notwithstanding, they are worthy champions and I salute them for their triumph.
And I salute the gallant Kiwis too. Beating India in the semi should be remembered as one of NZ’s greatest victories and their performance in the final should make all New Zealander’s proud.

After the emotions, you have to admit England always had it in them

Thanks Cari, I recognise the distinction.
I wrote an article on sledging too:

Headbutting the line: The law of sledging


I advocated that a rule should be developed where clever Oscar Wilde-esque sledging was encouraged whereas stupidly inane sledging, which would make you blush if you said it in front of your mother, was banned.
But more, seriously, I argued that certain topics should simply be off-limits, such as anything to do with the players’ friends and family and anything to do with race, religion or sexual orientation.
Cheers,

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Agreed Bayman.
The point about the boundary count-back, which I had not picked up on before, is that NZ played one less match than Eng in the group stage because their game against India was washed out. I would love to see the stat for average boundaries per match and see whether Eng still “won”.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Very entertaining and informative article, Oscar!
I like your point that the ICC contemplate joint winners in the event of a wash-out, but it begs the obvious question why the “most boundaries” rule isn’t deemed worthy when the match is washed-out. Like most things on this subject, it makes no sense.
I agree with those who say we should just keep having super-overs until somebody wins. Can you imagine the rising excitement and tension? To save time, the team who bats second in the first set of super overs, bats first in the second set.
In fact, rather than super-overs, I wouldn’t mind a system where you start with an extra 5 overs each and, if still tied, an extra 4 overs each, and then 3 etc.
As you can probably tell, when the cricket is good, too much cricket is never enough!

Nine better ways to settle the World Cup final

I agree, although what struck me is that 19.8 should come up quite regularly.
Like all of us, I’ve seen many overthrows in my cricketing life, and some have gone to the boundary. I don’t recall any prior focus on the instant the fielder threw the ball.
The other interesting point in all this, about which I have seen no commentary, is whether Stokes would have been run out if the the ball evaded his magical bat. I think he definitely would have been out with a direct hit and may have still been out if the keeper did some quick work.
He was still some distance from safety when the ball hit his bat.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Thanks Dave. Ultimately, the Umpires should know the rules. Surely.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Wow! Really?
If that is true, my estimation of Ben Stokes has just gone from my toes to above my head. It might explain what the Umpires were talking about for so long.
That said, I just read the article on SMH and the source appears to be Jimmy Anderson who thinks he heard Michael Vaughan say something:
“I think, talking to Michael Vaughan who saw him after the game, Ben Stokes actually went to the umpires and said, ‘Can you take that four runs off. We don’t want it’.
It doesn’t seem 100% reliable, particularly given that Stokes, himself, is quoted only as saying he apologised to the Kiwis and has not been directly quoted saying he asked the Umpires to remove the runs.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

You’re absolutely right, HR!
In addition, the umpire would also have to adjudicate – as they do now – whether the batsman altered their path or a moved a limb to make contact with the returning ball to render a run-out moot.
My goodness, what a mine field!

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Ken, that’s an outstanding point and one I had not contemplated!
Whilst slightly different, it reminds me of the time I was in a school match. I was backing up at the non-striker’s end and my team mate smashed the ball back down the wicket. The bowler stuck his right leg out to stop the ball and the ball deflected from his leg and took out middle stump. And I was left standing there like an idiot a couple of steps down the wicket!
What made a mortifying moment worse was the sound of my team mates raucously laughing from the sidelines!
But back to your point, I still support the notion of amending the dead ball rule to render the ball dead if a throw hits the batsman or their equipment. The result would be that both runs and freak run-outs would be banished.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

It’s fair observation Jeff. If I were a Kiwi, I’d be livid. Indeed, as a neutral observer, my sense of injustice is pretty visceral.
Mind you, in fairness, I didn’t feel that way when the Aussies proceeded to the Final in 1999 and the South Africans headed home…

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

I take your point, Jeff, but the way the players conducted themselves after what must have been a devastating loss – and in the face of at least two injustices – was exceptional.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Yes, the boundary count back system is ridiculous.
This would not have changed the result in this instance, but isn’t overall performance over the tournament the best measure? England and New Zealand both finished on 9 points, but England had the superior run rate.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

*their body*. Sigh.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Nice movie reference, Peter!

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

I agree that amending the dead bull rule to include when a return to the wicket by a fieldsman hits the batsman or their equipment would simply codify the existing convention and avoid the controversy of when the ball deflects all the way to the boundary.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Thanks Sgt P, the difference from tennis is that there is no convention in tennis to not accept let points in some circumstances. In cricket, batsman do not traditionally run if a throw deflects from there body into the field. My fundamental issue is why that convention is abandoned when the ball finds the boundary; particularly when I think there is a mechanism in the rules for the batsman to declare “dead ball” and for the fielding side to accept the declaration. Admittedly, it would be a brave call to invoke that convention in the final over if a WC Final with 7 runs to get! There is partial precedent, however in Gilly deciding to adopt a “walk policy” at a critical stage in a WC semi-final.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

I agree that If England needed 3 from the last ball, Stokes would have smashed the waist high full toss over the mid-wicket boundary.

With 2 to win, I think the mindset was to bunt the ball for a guaranteed tie (one run) and run like hell for the win (two runs). The mindset would have been different if there was 3 to win.

This assumes Stokes would have been on strike for the last ball…

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

I mentioned that very incident in my article! This Aussie has neither forgotten nor forgiven.

And before you mention sandpaper, if you read my other Roar articles, you will see my utter condemnation.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

I agree 100% HR. That would make an awful lot of sense!

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Thanks Piru.
I must say I am hugely impressed by how the Black Caps, and many of their countrymen (such as yourself), have dealt with the unfairness of this outcome. The rest of the world could learn much from your outlook on sport and on life. Thank you.
I agree, also, with your other comment. As I said to somebody else above, my intention was to underscore that England were entitled to the additional four runs under the rules. I didn’t intend to equate this event to the complete moral failure of the underarm abomination.
And, no, to my knowledge, nobody has every declared a dead ball in these circumstances. I am merely pointing out that, under the rules, there was an option; contrary to what the commentators said at the time.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Thanks Paul! The stray dog incident is hilarious!
I may have to include wildlife in the dead ball scenario! Was it Clive Lloyd who hit the seagull?

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket

Thanks Geoff, I think that is the underlying contradiction which motivated this article. Batsman adhere to the finest traditions of the game by not running when a throw deflects from their body or their equipment, but they’re somehow powerless to act should the ball find the boundary. It makes no sense.
As much as I understand that there was tremendous pressure on Stokes – in the final over of a World Cup Final – given what was at stake, he would have gone down in cricket history, to be lauded in folkloric verse and whimsical dance, had he said, “no, I don’t want to win that way; umps, it’s a dead ball“.

The Stokes deflection and the spirit of cricket