Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Randiv’s no-ball: All is fair in love and cricket

By John Cheeran
Virender Sehwag missed his century. Is that such a big deal? India played Sri Lanka in a inconsequential triangular one-day match in Dambulla on Monday and won comfortably. It should have ended there. But when you are looking for a story, such circumstances are not missed easily. With Sehwag unbeaten on 99, India only needed a single to overcome the Lankan total of 170.
So in a losing situation Sri Lankan bowler (off-spinner) Suraj Randiv did the smartest thing to do – sent down a no-ball by overstepping the bowler’s crease to deny Sehwag his 13th ODI century.
No rules were broken.
I don’t think Randiv or Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara or Tillakaratne Dilshan besmirched the spirit of the game by that smart piece of strategy.
Yes, they were not magnanimous to allow Sehwag complete a statistical milestone. Cricket, after all, is a sport and sport tends to be combative and competitive.
I’m baffled at the attempt of some commentators to draw parallel with Australian Trevor Chappell’s underarm ball to New Zealand striker Brian McKechnie in the final of Benson and Hedges Cup in 1981. That was well within the rule book but not in the spirit of the game.
In Sri Lanka, the other day, had Sehwag showed some more urgency the century would have been his. There was no attempt to subvert the spirit of the game; and India won. Had the non-striker been an enterprising guy, there would not have been enough opportunity for Sehwag to complete his milestone. So these are mere storm in tea cups.
The fact that Sri Lankan cricket board took the matter seriously and conducted an internal inquiry is a welcome step indeed. Now that Randiv has been suspended for one-match and Dilshan docked his match-fee, Sri Lankan board can retain its veneer of moral superiority.
But let’s not forget that all is fair in love and cricket.

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