“In reserving different modes of response to different sides, a disparity has seemed to crop up against the Asian sides, where they will either be ridiculed or judged, whilst the SENA countries are often let off with milder reactions or punishments”
October 18, 2018: The cricketing world could not have been blamed for laughing out loud at a comical run-out that saw Pakistan’s Azhar Ali walk back to the pavilion in bizarre circumstances. In the 53rd over of the third innings of the second Test between Pakistan and Australia at Abu Dhabi, comeback man Peter Siddle’s delivery was smacked away towards gully by Ali. Assuming that the ball had crossed the ropes, the two batsmen out in the middle, Ali and Asad Shafiq, converged for a mid-pitch conversation without watching the ball.
However, the ball had stopped just a few inches short of the ropes and Mitchell Starc did well to retrieve it and throw it to the striker’s end to send back a confused Ali, who was filled with regret at the incidents that had panned out. Commenting that the incident left him “lost for words”, the player soon became the butt of online trolls, who could not help but chuckle at the lack of seriousness with which the player was batting.
For ages, the Pakistan Cricket Team has been ridiculed, from incidents raging to their inept English skills, the unpredictability that sees them throw away matches when they should have easily had them in the bag and their fielding standards, with Inzamam-ul-Haq leading the pack due to his healthy appearance.
July 31, 2011: The Indian team was booed and made to feel like a team that was playing against the spirit of the game during their tour to England seven years ago. In the last ball before tea at Trent Bridge, Eoin Morgan flicked a delivery towards the boundary and the pair of Ian Bell and Morgan completed three runs before the former assumed the ball had gone over the boundary. However, Praveen Kumar was uncertain of the fact and he threw the ball back to MS Dhoni’s gloves, who, upon seeing that Bell had not yet grounded his bat, flicked off the bails. A run-out appeal was lodged, much to the amusement of Bell, who had already started walking back to the pavilion despite Morgan’s cries of asking him to ground the bat.
For Bell to be run-out, the ball should have not have crossed the ropes, and this is exactly what panned out. Legally, the former player was dismissed, and his nonchalant walk to the pavilion before tea had been officially called by the umpires or before the ball had been declared dead, brought upon criticism from all quarters.
But surprisingly, the spectators booed, calling out the Indians for playing against the spirit of cricket, when indeed it was Bell who had transgressed the lines. He called the four himself, without an official signal, he assumed tea had been called and he walked away from the pitch when no final decision over the boundary had been taken, and instead dissented when he was given out. A legal run-out. Yet, the Indians were called out for running him out; with Bell escaping any harsh judgement.
The difference in reactions is befuddling
Both the above mentioned incidents, arose out of the batsman’s naive error in judgement (Bell later admitted that he, in fact, had been very naive). Both players assumed that a boundary had been scored off, and hence the ball was dead. Admittedly, they were at fault and such an incident should only be chastised in international cricket.
But, while Bell was seen as the victim in the scenario, Ali was laughed at, with his dismissal being termed as one of the most comical run-outs in the history of the game. Though Bell was later reinstated, and his dismissal overturned by the Indian camp due to the persistent boos all around, one is just forced to ask if Australia would have ever done such a thing?
While it is true that in Bell’s case, even the fielder was unsure of the boundary, while the ball most definitely stopped within in Ali’s case, the lapse of assumption cannot be overlooked in either. Firstly, there was no reason for the English fans to appeal then as he had rightly been dismissed, and if he was, then why wasn’t the Aussie side booed in a similar manner on Day 3 of the Test match?
Is it because of the Pakistan team being an easy laughing stock, that started with Inzy being called “aaloo” or potato or the memes that were shared or which mocked skipper Sarfraz Khan’s spoken skills in English after guiding the side to the Champions Trophy last year? Or is it a larger picture, where media and fans alike reserve different reactions for different teams?
Commentator Sunil Gavaskar has been forthright in stating that match referees are often tougher to the Asian sides, often ignoring the other nations even when the excessively appeal or show dissent. The incident that comes to mind is of Michael Slater and Rahul Dravid in 2001, when the former used abusive language against the Wall after a catch against the Indian was turned down. Described by Peter Roebuck as “Slater’s moment of madness”, the Aussie walked up to the umpire S Venkatraghavan and argued with him over the decision.
Surprisingly, he was let off with a warning.
In reserving different modes of response to different sides, a disparity has seemed to crop up against the Asian sides, where they will either be ridiculed or judged, whilst the SENA countries are often let off with milder reactions or punishments.