The Nottingham tea party

Published: August 2, 2011
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PHOTO: AFP

Courtesy should fall flat in front of the rules. The state of affairs, in sports is run by a system agreeable to the ones who need to follow it to earn their living. Some just follow it for the sake of righteousness but either way, the convention exists to guide and contain, and to reduce digression if not stop it altogether.

Lewis Hamilton didn’t become a world champion and one of the most exciting drivers by moving over to the dirty side of the track and allowing his rivals an easy pass.

Similarly, Amir Khan plays for a knockout, not the 12th round. Simply put, you’d want to finish off rivals as soon as possible, pound on their every mistake and act on it swiftly.

MS Dhoni’s decision to withdraw an appeal and recall a dismissed Ian Bell not only defied the rules that the MCC has strived to keep in place but also ridiculed his teammates and the officials by first appealing, then ensuring Bell goes off the field only to reverse it following guests over for tea.

Why is sportsmanship being touted as the greatest winner?

Isn’t the number one ranking at stake?

Won’t millions of Indians at home and at the ground want India to win?

The fans don’t throng the stadiums to catch a glimpse of sportsmanship, not for £90. Dhoni won’t tell Praveen Kumar to send half trackers down, ensuring the opposition get a sizeable total in the name of sportsmanship.

Applause notwithstanding, the opposition should be striving to go one better for not just the winner’s cheque but also the beloved ranking points that straddle along with the bragging rights.

Why bother with a nagging line, unerring accuracy, vicious bounce and the sweet outswing to outclass the likes of Kevin Pieterson and Matt Prior if sportsmanship is what may ruin it all. Why put in a short-leg, devise strategies, oppose DRS, spray some jelly beans? What are laws there for then? Surely Inzamamul Haq must be pulling off the white strands of his beard, twice suffering when trying to protect himself with no evil intent.

Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t recalled after that collision-forced runout at the Eden Gardens. The Indian team would’ve loved that, the crowd even more. It was neither side’s fault, same in the case of Bell who, unaware of proceedings despite his partner’s warnings, felt the need to wander about.

Bell should’ve stayed where he ended up at tea. Dhoni, and the officials, should’ve gone on with the game for this is a Test match, not an exhibition of sportsmanship. And what of the ‘delegation’ that paid the Indians a visit during the interval? Leaving Dhoni and the Indian management’s bizarre u-turn aside, the England camp’s request left the spirit of cricket dying a brainless death.

And while the spirit of the game is being called into action time and again, the debate about walking, DRS and Vaseline rages on…in the same Test.

Faras Ghani

Faras Ghani

Sports editor of The Express Tribune who is also the author of the book "Champions, again" farasghani.com/championsagain.html

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