Evoking the Spirit of Cricket to condemn Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin is grossly unfair and unnecessary.
The MCC has said Ashwin was well within his rights to run out Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler by “Mankading” him. They later backtracked on the Spirit of the Game aspect but the law is the law.
The law has existed from a long time and though rarely used, it is a fair form of dismissal. Hence, all the brouhaha about the Spirit of the Game and the indignation expressed by many former and current cricketers is just balderdash.
Let’s face it. If the Spirit of Cricket did exist, we wouldn’t be seeing so much sledging, abuse and vulgar gestures on the field of play.
The Spirit of Cricket died many decades ago when professionalism and excessive money took over the game.
Very few cricketers today are role models for the many young people who watch the game regularly. There is blatant cheating and betting going on despite stringent laws in that regard.
The Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner just completed their bans for ball tampering.
The game too is unfortunately loaded in favour of the batsmen rather than the bowlers. Batsmen are allowed to switch hit without informing the bowler.
And if a right-handed bowler switches to left handed during delivery he/she is immediately barred.
There was a time when a bowler always warned the non-striker if he was gaining unfair advantage by leaving the crease before the ball was bowled. In the mostly friendlier atmosphere then, such instances were laughed off.
Today, there is a no-holds barred scenario where players don’t want to fritter away their advantage.
In Ashwin’s case getting Butler out would have shifted the balance to his side. So he went ahead and did.
The third umpire also approved of it. The matter ends there.
But there are many former cricketers around the world, who have got away with murder in their playing days, now act like saints and evoke the Spirit of Cricket.
There is also that nagging feeling that players from Australia and England in particular still live with a superiority complex over other teams. They cannot come to terms that teams from the Sub-continent and elsewhere have learnt the game from them and are now better at it.
If an Australian or an English bowler had done that, there would have more talk about Fair Play than Spirit of the Game.
One of the most vocal in this controversy has been Shane Warne who wouldn’t fit the description of a saint by a long margin.
Ashwin has justified his action and must stand by it. He is one of the best bowlers in the world and can easily dismiss a batsman by his skills alone.
Trying to gain advantage for your side by fair means is acceptable. What matters is that he won the match for his side. Ashwin must now put all that out of his mind and move on. It has been cleared by the authorities and that’s that.
The Spirit of Cricket is much spoken of but rarely practised.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.