Respect the crease - Ashwin taught Buttler a lesson | Sunday Observer

Respect the crease - Ashwin taught Buttler a lesson

‘I’ve been accused, convicted and condemned’ goes the lyrics in that Jim Reeves perennial hit ‘GUILTY’. Ravichandran Ashwin, the Kings X1 Punjab captain must be humming these words which perennial also includes the lines ‘when all I did is loving you’ and Ashwin must be substituting the above with his own lines ‘guilty of playing to the rules’.

It all began like this: Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler was run-out on 69 while backing up at the non-striker’s end with Kings X1 Punjab captain Ashwin choosing to whip off the bails as the runner (Buttler) stepped out of the crease, instead of completing his delivery to the batsman on strike.

The incident took place during the game between Kings X1 Punjab and Rajasthan Royals in the lucrative Indian Premier League in Jaipur. Jaipur is famous for producing artificial limbs and Buttler will not have a limb to stand on considering his act in trying to ‘steal a run’.

Ashwin has been scourged and whipped by critics who accuse him of not playing in the spirit. With filthy lucre flooding cricket that was tagged the ‘gentleman’s game’ when it was given birth to by the BRITS, the spirit was long forgotten and today what matters is playing to win and to the rules.

Today winning is not the thing, it is the only thing. That is the adage in which the game is played today. And it is unfair and not cricket for critics to skin Ashwin for playing to the rules.

The moment a youngster takes to the game and is shown how to handle a bat, the coach will tell him and instill in him to play to the rules as laid down in the book. That is fundamental. Playing to the spirit was then, is secondary now and not in vogue.

Today with winning being the thing because with victory money comes flooding like flash floods to the cricketers and the spirit need not be spoken about because now it has become an evil spirit.

Instead of taking on Ashwin, Buttler should be the one taken to the hangman.. There was no need for Ashwin to first warn Buttler before he did what he did.

Buttler has been in the game for a long time and cannot claim ignorance of the rule. He knows, and for that matter all batsmen are well aware that a run is considered a run when you run 22 yards. Attempting to run anything less amounts to cheating and what Buttler did was tantamount to that. If not so, why have a crease at all! He is no kid to be warned. He has long been in the game to know the rules and cannot claim ignorance of that particular rule. It was obvious that Buttler was overdoing his unsporting act.

As for us, Ashwin must be admired for his bold decision. He was playing to the rules and that is what matters. He must not be worried but tell his critics to go fly a kite. That the critics did not see the crime that Buttler was committing and not frying him is inexplicable.

If Ashwin was not playing to the rules, the umpire who conducts the game would not have ruled Buttler out. The umpire knew the rule and was aware that Buttler was out but to make certain he referred it to the third umpire.

The third umpire who watched the replays a few times to see whether Ashwin was right in what he did, informed the on-field umpire that Buttler was out. And that should have ended the story. Critics keep hitting at Ashwin for not warning Buttler before doing what he did. They are attempting to treat Buttler like a kid. If Buttler was ignorant of the rule then, how he came to be playing the game for so long is unacceptable and one might ask what England the country that he plays for was doing. That Buttler had to mutter a few words to Ashwin was unacceptable. Obviously Ashwin would have retorted.

The Cricket Committee of the international Cricket Council instead of just warming their seats, should study the rules that can bring discredit to the player and the game and delete or change them. One remembers the incident when Australian captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother Trevor to bowl underarm to a New Zealand batsman. That incident that was roundly condemned by critics nearly brought the two countries to war.

What Greg was doing was playing to the rules. He too was scourged for ignoring the spirit. Later the ICC realizing their folly deleted the bowling underarm rule from the books.

Similarly the ICC RC must find a way out of this impasse and not let the player playing to the rules and not the spirit be lynched by critics who don’t or refuse to see reason.

The dismissal is named ‘Mankad’ after Indian bowler Vinoo Mankad ran out Australia’s Bill Brown in similar fashion in 1947, is permitted under cricket’s laws but viewed by some as going against the spirit of the game. With big money corrupting today’s game to speak about spirit is nonsensical.

Australia’s 700 wicket taker in Tests Shane Warne has said that Ashwin had committed a ‘low act. “So disappointed in (Ashwin) as a captain and as a person,” Warne wrote on twitter.

“(Ashwin) had no intention of delivering the ball… this is not a good look for IPL… Why do such a disgraceful and low act like that tonight?”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan suggested the rule should be changed. If (Buttler) had been warned, well that’s fine,” Vaughan tweeted. “If he hasn’t and it’s the first time, I think Ashwin is completely out of order. I would prefer a warning rule then after that it’s a free for all.”

Vaughan was talking sense when he said he would prefer a warning rule. At the moment there is no such rule. So why whip Ashwin? Warne is taking a holier-than-thou attitude. He has many black marks like taking drugs and being banned, leaking information to bookies with Mark Waugh as credentials. He need not be told that those in glass houses must not stand naked.

The Marylebone Cricket Club after reviewing footage of the incident has described the incident of not being ‘within the spirit of the game’ says MCC’s manager of the laws of cricket. Fraser Stewart further adds that non-strikers should stop trying to gain an advantage by backing up before the ball was bowled.

‘It’s also unfair and against the spirit of cricket for non-strikers to leave their ground too early’ he has added. He further says ‘all these debates wouldn’t be necessary if non-strikers remained in their ground until the ball is on its way down the pitch’.

As an example, athletes should not be faulted if they too, when they get under the starter’s orders, get on their marks a few feet in front of the starting line and bolt once they hear the starter’s gun.


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