The Spirit of Cricket Stands Defeated


The image of cricket, considered the gentleman’s game, was dirtied when the world governing body of the game, International Cricket Council (ICC) , literally kept its president at bay while holding the 2015 world cup final presentation ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday, violating its constitution and all norms. Giving a damn to the spirit of the game, ICC Chairman Narayanswami Srinivasan, who is barred by the highest court of his country from seeking re-election as head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India citing a conflict of interest, handed over the trophy to the winning captain in presence of ICC CEO David Richardson. ICC President AHM Mustafa Kamal was missing from the ceremony.

In what he said in his personal capacity, Kamal, a Bangladeshi national, came down heavily on bad umpiring in the quarterfinal match between defending champions India and Bangladesh, stirring the row with the ICC. “I strongly protest the umpiring errors that went against Bangladesh,” Kamal told the media in Melbourne, expressing his ‘deep concern’ over the controversial decisions that ended Bangladesh’s dream run in the World Cup.

At least three decisions in the quarterfinal match put questions on the standards of the umpiring in the highest level of the game. Players and spectators were taken aback when umpires appeared to have made a mistake by calling Rubel Hossain’s delivery, off which Rohit Sharma was caught, a ‘no ball’. Earlier, Suresh Raina, who struck a 57-ball 65, was trapped lbw to a Mashrafe Bin Mortaza delivery, but the review upheld the umpire’s decision. And finally, the way umpires gave Bangladesh in-form batsman Mahmdullah Ryad out, caught in the boundary rope, generated controversies in the cricket world.

India’s Shekhar Dhawan took Ryad’s catch almost on the ropes. On TV, Dhawan’s left foot appeared to have touched the ropes while taking the catch.

Kamal comments prompted ICC Chief Executive Richardson to issue a statement, slamming his boss for questioning the integrity of umpires. “The ICC has noted Mustafa Kamal’s comments, which are very unfortunate but made in his personal capacity.

As an ICC President, he should have been more considerate in his criticism of ICC match officials, whose integrity cannot be questioned,” said Richardson. Kamal, whose position has been largely ceremonial after Indian national Srinivasan became the body’s chairman last year, also said there was no quality in the umpiring.

Yes, Kamal, who also said he would raise flags in the next board meeting, should have been more ‘considerate’ as Richardson argued.

We couldn’t agree more. But were the ICC and the likes of Richardson and Srinivasan, whose son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was found guilty of betting on matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL), ‘considerate enough’ to breach its constitution and break the tradition by barring its president, though a ceremonial head, from attending the presentation ceremony? The ICC has set a bad precedent indeed!

What a pathetic scene! No other person than the ICC president himself was leaving the Melbourne Cricket Ground even before the final between Australia and New Zealand was over after he was denied the opportunity to hand over the World Cup trophy to the champions. It’s full of irony when ICC says its actions and people are guided by ‘Fairness and Integrity, Excellence, Accountability, Teamwork, Respect for diversity, and Commitment to the global game and its great spirit’.

The ICC should have been more ‘considerate’ while breaching its constitution and norms: It should have waited for a proper board meeting to change its decision to empower all power full chairman to do the honour. The likes of Srinivasan and Richardson stand accused of the same accusation they have brought against Kamal.

If for the sake of arguments one is convinced that the charge of ‘deliberate attempt’ to favour a particular team on a particular day is ‘unfortunate’ and ‘baseless’ as Richardson argued, what efforts the ICC has made to jump to a conclusion. Did Richardson make enough probes before popping up with the statement? Yes, ‘the spirit of the game dictates that the umpire’s decision is final and must be respected’. Agreed. But has there been any remedy to stop or at least cut the recurrence of mistakes the cricket world witnessed at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 19 March?

The onus is now completely on the ICC to mend the damage and thereby to save the soul and spirit of cricket: and the best way to control the damage is reconciliation not confrontation.


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