Lahore October 16, 1987: It was almost twilight and West Indies were on the threshold of entering their fourth consecutive Semi Final place in World Cups. Pakistan required 2 runs from the last ball with Abdul Qadir on strike, the non striker Saleem Jaffar was backing up too far and should have been out ‘Mankaded’.
But the Caribbean giant Courtney Walsh decided to play gentleman and stopped in his tracks to allow the Pakistan no. 11 back in his crease. The next ball Qadir got the runs for a famous victory. West Indies lost, but Walsh won a million hearts and the incident remains etched even after 26 years.
That was then. Cricket and the World have traversed millions of miles around the Sun and human life has evolved much around the principal of vengeance.
While cricket is now played with fierce competitive spirit with no team missing a chance to sledge and disturb the other team, the Englishmen, credited with inventing the game of Cricket and branding it a gentleman’s game, are no saints either and have a fair share of bringing disrepute to the tag. Not new to breaking the law, crying hoarse and playing victim is something the English cricketers are not new to either.
The recent incident involving English batsman Jos Buttler and Sri Lankan spinner Sachitra Senanayake is moot case in point.
After a whirlwind century in a losing cause Jos had come into this deciding fifth One Day International with a huge responsibility. What was irresponsible on his part was his constant ambling outside the crease at the non striker’s end while the bowler ran up to bowl. Having been warned a few times in the earlier match and twice by Senanayake, Jos was in for a rude shock when the bowler coolly ran him out Mankaded. That hastened the end of the English innings and a seemingly achievable target meant the Lankan side won the match and series.
While it would be fair for the home crowd to feel cheated and boo the opposition for the alleged un-sportive act of the Lankan captain upholding the appeal for Out, it also brings to fore the unfair advantage sportsmen take by breaking the law. Yes, lawfully Buttler was out and he didn’t deserve a third warning.
For a strong believer in sportsmanship and fairplay, I may not have Mankaded a non striker while bowling, but as a stickler to rules I always believed, the one who breaks the rule deserves to be punished.
On this day English Cricket had to be punished, and they were!