“While Crowe slapped the South African with a fine despite many having second views over his shouldering, no doubts remained over Shakib’s ugliness and the tarnish that he had brought to the game of cricket”.
Over the last few weeks, the International Cricket Council has been the centre of much attention for their irregularities and their decisions, that have hampered their respectability across the pundits. Beginning with the spat between David Warner and Quinton de Kock to the ploy to reduce the World Cup next year to ten teams, when governing bodies across all sports are expanding theirs – a fact made worse by the high-pitched performances of these “minnows”, the ICC has not really won over the cricket fans with their judgements.
It all started with the altercation between Warner and De Kock on the stairwell of the dressing room in the first Test match between South Africa and Australia. An aggrieved Warner was seen charging down at de Kock, who was a calm self against the volatile Warner, who cupped a 75% fine for his behaviour. The South African wicketkeeper on the other hand just managed to cough up a 25% fine, which would have been a stern punishment, if not for the fact that he ended up bringing Warner’s wife into the picture.
With even Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis not denying that his teammate did bring up Candice Warner’s name, the question that remained was whether Warner’s aggressive word-play was enough to warrant such a hefty blow? True, in the footage that was leaked, de Kock can in no way be called hostile, but when taking the decision, how could the ICC totally disregard the reasons that led to Warner’s outburst?
If someone constantly bad mouths one’s closed ones and walks away silently, how fair is it that the “tauntor” escapes while the taunted, for reacting, gets pulled up? Warner, who has been at his best behaviour ever since his pull up in the 2015 World Cup, has gone days being so quiet that his teammates would have to ask him to have a word or so with the opponents.
While the ICC has a strict Code of Conduct in place – which many would say has gone on to become a joke recently – it is often been accused of only punishing cricketers who react to the snide comments made rather quietly by the opponents. One then, in no way, can blame Warner for fiercely protecting his family and standing up for his wife even when de Kock walked away rather sheepishly.
The other incident took place not much later, with Kagiso Rabada seen ‘shouldering’ Steven Smith, after he dismissed the latter. Jeff Crowe was rather unrelenting in his judgement, slapping three demerit points on the bowler that earned him a ban from the next two Tests that were left in the series. The Man-of-the-Match in the second Test match was sure to contest his ban and with no concrete proof that he had bumped into the batsman accidentally, Rabada’s ban was set to stand still.
With the two teams locked in an engaging battle, Rabada’s loss was a severe one indeed. While the whole of Cricket South Africa was desperately trying to gather together points that the fast bowler would present to the ICC-appointed judicial commissioner Michael Heron in his plea, far away in Sri Lanka, an ugly altercation unfolded between the Bangladeshi players and the umpires in the T20I game between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
At a crucial juncture in the virtual semi-final, and with twelve needed off five deliveries, Sri Lanka’s Isuru Udana bowled the second bouncer of the over. The same delivery had Mustafizur Rahim run-out and the Bangladeshi players, under the impression that the square leg umpire had signalled a shoulder height no-ball ran up to the other umpire for clarification. After it was not given, a distraught Shakib Al Hasan was seen animatedly calling back the players after he had indulged in a banter with the umpires.
The sub-fielders from the Bangladesh camp were seen pointing fingers at the Sri Lankan fielders amid enough dirty scenes and it was also reported that the Tigers, led by Shakib had reportedly broken the dressing room in their post-win celebrations. The win, though highly appreciated, was marred in an uncouth and ugly behaviour from the Bangladesh players, who are soon starting to lose their admirers as the fine line between aggression and ugliness is being forgotten by them.
But what was surprising was that both Shakib and Nurul Hasan – the substitute – were fined just 25% of their fees. While the skipper was penalised for behaving in a way that is “contrary to the spirit of the game”, Nurul was accused of “bringing the game into disrepute”. Both were given one demerit point each.
This ruling, when compared to Rabada’s ruling, seemed not only contradictory but also hard to fathom. Even if Rabada did – and as Heron stated, there was no adequate proof of that – bang into Smith purposely in his follow through and was awarded a ban for that, why wasn’t Shakib? He marched on to the field, threatened the umpires, forced the game to come to a halt and wanted to leave the game because a decision went against his side. True, in an important game, emotions run wild, but it is in THESE moments that the ICC Code of Conduct should ideally apply.
For all those who watched Rabada’s celebrations and Shakib’s threats can vouch for the latter’s unprofessionalism, which made it a sight that could mar the image of the game. Youngsters saw the happenings and when he was not charged a heftier amount, they would have assumed that it was what is called a perfectly acceptable behaviour. On the other hand, Rabada’s aggression was perfectly acceptable to many, with the young pacer enveloped in euphoria after claiming one of the most dangerous players currently.
While Crowe slapped the South African with a fine despite many having second views over his shouldering, no doubts remained over Shakib’s ugliness and the tarnish that he had brought to the game of cricket. Two different incidents, two different rulings and two different opinions have made ICC an administrative board that is no longer as respected as it was previously. And that, in no way can be a good sign.