India gives Spirit of Cricket but does not receive it back down under

By Kersi Meher-Homji

It’s a case of give, give and give but no happy returns for India.

I am referring to the Tri-nation match between India and Australia and another defeat and controversy on the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

True, India’s performance in Australia this summer, with few exceptions, has been pathetic. But when it comes to Spirit of Cricket, they have been the best of the three sides.

Throw your mind back on the one-day international between Sri Lanka and India last Tuesday in Brisbane.

Experts and journalists in Australia have not applauded India’s sporting spirit in withdrawing the appeal against Sri Lankan non-striking batsman Lahiru Thirimanne who was technically and legally run-out by India’s off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

As featured in the TIDU web-site last week, Thirimanne left the crease before Ashwin delivered the ball. So Ashwin broke the stumps and looked at the umpire for a run out decision. By the new Law the non-striker Thirimanne was out but to avoid future controversy, the two on-field umpires consulted Indian skipper Virender Sehwag whether he would like to withdraw the appeal which he did. It was cricket played in the true spirit of the game.

Thirimanne survived. He was 44 and Sri Lanka 4-196 then and went on to top score with 62 as his country reached 289 and won.

Would SL have reached this total and gone on to win if Thirimanne was given out in the 40th over?

The answer came this Sunday in match. Sachin Tendulkar set off for a cheeky single, only to find bowler Brett Lee in his way, near the striker’s end, with his back to the non-striker’s end. According to the law, it is the batsman’s responsibility to run around the bowler; not the bowler’s to make way. The only way a batsman can get away with such a run-out is if the fielding side withdraws the appeal. Australia did not.

The supporters of “Mankading” incident on the Gabba last week can well ask as to why the umpires did not ask the fielding side to reconsider this appeal.

It seems there are two sets of rules; one for India and the other against India.

Technically, Tendulkar was out and the umpires were justified in declaring him out. But they neither asked Australia’s skipper Shane Watson to withdraw the appeal for the Spirit of the Game (as the umpires in Brisbane had asked Sehwag) nor did the Australians call him back.

Thirimanne was out fair and square. However, Tendulkar could have made his ground if Lee was not in his way. This is not to suggest that Lee blocked Tendulkar deliberately. In my opinion, to show the true spirit of cricket, he and his team should have recalled Sachin.

Brett Lee

Spirit of the game did not prevail on the SCG this Sunday whereas it did in Brisbane last week

David Hussey

A few hours before the Tendulkar-Lee incident, David Hussey got the benefit of doubt when he perhaps unintentionally blocked a ball when going for a run.

By the rules of the game he should have been given out “obstructing the field”.

“Why have rules in the game if you do not follow it”, Ian Chappell told me in the SCG Press Box after this incident.

Would the incidents of the Brisbane ODI involving the Thirimanne “Mankading” and benefit of doubt given to David Hussey and the non-withdrawal of appeal for the Tendulkar run out on the SCG have altered the result of these two do-or-die games for India?

We shall never know but India is to be commended for honouring the Spirit of the Game in Brisbane and on the Ian Bell incident in the Trent Bridge Test against England last July.

Sachin Tendulkar honoured with SCG membership

The match took much of the gloss of Tendulkar being honoured with Honorary SCG membership and being presented a bust statue of Sir Don Bradman just before the match commenced. He is the only overseas sportsman and only the second cricketer after Steve Waugh to be so honoured.

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