The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) recent decision to bring in certain changes in rules for ODIs has kick off unsavory arguments among veterans. Gavaskar was more vocal to oppose the ICC decision not to allow ‘runner’ to an injured player during the match. He shot back countering such in-human decision by saying ‘also stop serving water to the batsmen in the middle.” Even, while this serious row generated enough heat for and against, the ICC chief Haroon Lorgat defended the scrapping of runners arguing that the provision was being misused by the batsmen. “It was taken only to spruce up the sport,” he claimed. He further argued that more than a century old runner rule was put to an end as it was not used by batsmen in the ‘right spirit.’
Though, it was not my intention to support my fellow countryman as well my cricket idol Gavaskar’s argument, yet what surprises me is Lorgat’s ‘unjustified’ argument that even ‘Umpires in the middle were unable to determine whether there has been a real injury to batsmen or whether it was a tactical use of runners.’ Can there be anything more ridiculous than this. If I remember right, during my childhood days as a cricket lover, I did come across some controversies over umpires decisions in crucial matches, whether involving India or not. But, then the better sense prevailed upon the cricket analysts as well cricket buffs in accepting ‘err is human’ and after all even umpires are humans.
However, since the technology is readily available to plug such human errors, nothing wrong its effective usage. But, can anyone guarantee how fool-proof this technology can be while putting it to use? Can’t it be tampered or altered? When apprehensions surrounding Electronic Voting Machines gaining currency, even in case of technology being put to use in cricket for delivering ‘fair’ judgments, to me appear doubtful! In fact, I am not convinced with the Third Umpire decision, even after watching the TV replays where the decision went against the batsman, sometimes and on other occasions in his favor. Not necessary, one can accept the Third Umpires point of view always as he may well commit an error while delivering the judgment by whisker!
That may be reason why the BCCI was reluctant to accept apply of URR either in ODIs or Test matches. Though, it was reluctant to accept and remain rigid, however, better wisdom prevailed and okayed it at the Tuesday’s ICC member committees meeting at Hong Kong Tuesday. Prior to the meeting, reports were agog that other member nations of ICC wanted to embarrass India, if it chose to stick to its stand taken on URR.
Having been ‘fair’ thus far in the interest of game per se, the ICC decision to abolish the provision of having runners besides introducing new rules to spruce up the sport is nothing short of an inhuman act. Perhaps, even our cricket icon Sunil Gavaskar too felt the same way and hence he shot back by restricting the bowlers having water on the boundary line while the game is in progress.
In fact, the debate on the need for runners came to the fore in the 2009 Champions Trophy when England captain Andrew Strauss turned down his South African counterpart Graeme Smith’s request for a runner while he was battling cramps. The ICC apparently made the decision keeping in mind cases like these and came to a conclusion that runners can’t be taken for cramps as they are a result of fatigue and not an injury.
The move by the apex body however drew flak from Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, who demanded that bowlers should also be stopped from drinking water at the boundary line. I quote, Gavaskar saying; “I would also like to suggest that there should be no water for bowlers at the boundary end. They bowl one over and come to the boundary where energy drinks are waiting for them.
“Our proud cricket legend did not stop there. He even went to the extent of saying in the ongoing second Test between India and the West Indies in Barbados; “There should be no drinks breaks that are usually scheduled after one hour or so. If you are going to make a situation like this then there should not be any substitute fielders either.”
Let us hope, Lorgat find some justification in our cricket ‘legend’ Gavaskar’s genuine argument and withdraw his ‘silly’ argument justifying abolition of runner rule.