Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: Cricket

Records are broken once

Once a record is broken it does not remain a record. Once Sunil Gavaskar hit 30th Test century he broke Don Bradman’s record of highest or most Test centuries. Afterwards it was Sunil Gavaskar’s record and not Don Bradman’s record. Sunil Gavaskar ended his career with 34 centuries. When Sachin Tendulkar hit 35th Test century he broke Sunil Gavaskar’s record and continues to hold the record with 51 centuries. After Sunil Gavaskar whenever someone hit 30th century he did not break Don Bradman’s record because there was no record. It is wrong to speak of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Ricky Ponting, Jaques Kallis and Rahul Dravid breaking Don Bradman’s record. When Rahul Dravid hit 34th Test century he equalled the number of Sunil Gavaskar’s centuries but did not equal his record because there was no record.

In bowling Muthaiah Muralitharan holds the record of 800 Test wickets. If someone surpasses the tally of Frederick Trueman, Lancelot Gibbs, Dennis Lille, Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Courtney Walsh or Share Warne he does not break the record of highest Test wickets.

The record for highest wickets in a Test, 19, is held by Jim Laker. The record for highest wickets in a Test Innings, 10, is held by Jim Laker and Anil Kumble.

In fielding someone had the record of six Test catches by a fielder other than wicketkeeper. Over the years 11 others equalled the record. Then Greg Chappell broke that record with seven catches.

A record may be equalled many times but can be broken only once.

Ian Bell out and in

On 31/7/2011 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, it was the last ball before tea break. Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan had completed three runs. Ian Bell thought the ball had cleared the boundary and he left his place and walked towards Eoin Morgan. The umpire had not signalled boundary. Praveen Kumar had stopped the ball. He threw it to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. From Dhoni it went to Abhinav Mukund who dislodged the bails. Indians appealed. The field umpires referred it to third umpire who ruled Ian Bell out.

The matter should have rested there. But English players were aghast. The crowd was angry. As per reports English captain Andrew Strauss and English coach Andy Flower came to India’s dressing room and asked Dhoni to withdraw the appeal. Dhoni held a meeting with players and some were for withdrawal and some were against withdrawal. Ultimately Dhoni decided to withdraw the appeal and India’s coach Duncan Fletcher went to umpire Billy Bowden and informed India was withdrawing the appeal.

Much has been said by some that the appeal was “against the spirit of the game”. What is the spirit of the game? Ian Bell made a mistake in assuming the ball was dead. He should have checked whether the umpire had signalled four runs. The ball was not dead. As he later said “According to the rules, I should have been out. But both teams played a massive role towards the spirit of the game.” Spirit of the game requires that you accept umpire’s decisions, more so when you know according to rules you are out. England did not play any role towards the spirit of the game. Asking Indians to withdraw the appeal was against the spirit of the game. Ian Bell was on 137 at the time and finally out on 159 bowled Yuvraj Singh. If the crowd created problem it is for the host country to control it.

Rahul Dravid said “We thought what if it was one of our batsmen in Bell’s position. We wouldn’t have liked it if V. V. S. Laxman or Sachin Tendulkar was out in such a way.” In 1999 Sachin Tendulkar was run out in Calcutta when Shoaib Akhtar had blocked his way. The crowd was angry. Sachin Tendulkar appealed to the people to remain calm. That did not pacify the people. The Test concluded without the crowd to watch. India lost the Test.

Dhoni should not have withdrawn the appeal. As captain he is responsible. Those who play Test cricket should know the rules and accept the verdicts. Ian Bell has played Test cricket for many years. Withdrawing appeal is not generosity but foolishness. In 1980 in Golden Jubilee Test in Bombay an English player was given out. He appealed to India’s captain G. R. Vishwanath to allow him to continue. Vishwanath allowed him to continue. The batsman hit a century. India lost the Test. Vishwanath lost his captaincy.

In 1987 World Cup in a group match Courtney Walsh was bowling the last ball of the match. Abdul Qadir was ahead of the crease and Courtney Walsh had the chance to run him out and West Indies would have won by one run. He did not do it. Pakistan scored two runs off the ball and won. West Indies were out of World Cup.

The Ian Bell incident is similar to Alvin Kallicharan incident that took place in West Indies in 1974. It was the last ball of the day. Alvin Kallicharan was the non-striker. He was on 142. Bernard Julien was the striker. He had played the last ball. The players had begun to return. Umpires had not said “Over”. Tony Greig was fielding at silly point. He collected the ball and dislodged the bails of Kallicharan’s stumps and appealed. The umpire ruled Kallicharan out. The crowd was angry. West Indian and English officials had a meeting. At that time there were rest days during Tests. Rest day was advanced to next day. For the first time in Test cricket, umpire’s decision was reversed and Alvin Kallicharan was allowed to play. He was out on 158.

Where was the spirit of the game when V. V. S. Laxman was not given out when a Hot Spot decision went in his favour and Stuart Broad went to check his bat? Michael Vaughan tweeted that there was Vaseline on Laxman’s bat though he put the tweet as a question. When Gavaskar suggested Laxman should sue Vaughan he backtracked and said sense of humour required and did not accuse Laxman of using Vaseline. Ravi Shastri asked how did Vaughan know if Vaseline is used Hot Spot is not effective. He should have done it. Anyway, this controversy put a question mark over Hot Spot.

Shane Warne put it rightly “What a last delivery before tea – huge controversy. Much as we don’t like to see dismissals like that, no doubt – out!”

India not Lords of Cricket

India lost the Lord’s Test by 196 runs on 25/7/2011. It was 2000th Test and 100th Test between England and India. Before the Test India ranked No. 1 and England No. 3. It was the first Test of a four Tests series.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won the toss and should have elected to bat. Electing to field was a mistake. Many years ago Mohammed Azharuddin had won the toss and had elected to bat. In that Test Graham Gooch scored 333 runs in the first Innings and 123 runs in the second Innings and became the first person to score a triple century and single century in the same Test and that was a new world record. Before that there were some who had scored a double century and single century in the same Test. Sunil Gavaskar, Greg Chappell and Lawrence Rowe were among them.

Some things went wrong for India. After getting two wickets Zaheer Khan was out of the field. On the second day Dhoni bowled eight overs. Rahul Dravid kept wickets. In the first over the field umpire had ruled Kevin Pietersen out. Kevin Pietersen made use of UDRS and commentators said he was out and third umpire ruled him not out. He went on to make 202 not out. Kapil Dev criticized Dhoni for bowling. If there had been no UDRS the result would have been different. Dhoni could have got more wickets. Once in Pakistan Dhoni had bowled one over. His long hair was liked by Pervez Musharraf. That time Rahul Dravid was the captain.

England declared 474/8. India were all out for 286. That was 188 runs lead for England.

Sachin Tendulkar got fever. Gautam Gambhir was hit on the elbow.

On the fourth day Ishant Sharma had taken three quick wickets had before lunch and England were 62/5. After lunch Dhoni did not ask him to bowl and England consolidated. When Ishant Sharma was brought back and he took a wicket it was 107/6. After that no wicket fell and England declared 269/6. To win India had to make 458 runs or play for a draw. It was 80/1 at the end of the day.

On the fifth day the options before India were draw or defeat. India were all out for 261.

India failed to take 20 wickets in this Test. It took 14 wickets. To win a Test a team must be able to take 20 wickets. Zaheer Khan had rest after IPL. On the first day of the first Test he was out of action.

This is not a humiliating defeat. In 1974 India had done worst. In the second Test India were all out for 42 and lost the Test by an Innings and 265 runs. In the third Test England lost two wickets and won the Test by an Innings and 78 runs.

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