Saturday, July 02, 2022

Musings of a Groundsman - In Dispirit of Cricket

There is reason why my sport is referred to as the gentleman's game...and it's not because it is played only by men. Honesty, respect for the individual (officials and opposition), are the mantra that the game hinges on...remove those, and the game is as good as those played by touts and hooligans.
One of the reasons I took to this game was not just because it stimulates the mind and engages the body, it is because nobility is held in very high regard. Not that alone, honesty is the bearest minimum requirement and respect pervades every aspect of it. From players, to officials and to club administrators.

One of the noblest games was dealt the most ignoble blows in the just concluded Southwest edition of the National Sports Festival Zonal Elimination at the Tafawa Balewa Square Cricket Oval, Lagos. It was a day I wept for the dishonour that was brought into the game in the name of passion and competitiveness. Let me share with you what went down...
A shot was lofted to the long-on area of the field by the striker, and a fielder was in pursuit, who took the ball cleanly in his hands but he appeared to have stepped on the boundary rope while completing the catch. According to Laws 33.2.1 (Fair Catch) and Law 19.4 and 19.5, the ball had been “grounded beyond the boundary” by virtue of the fielder stepping on the rope.

The bowler's end umpire, seeing that the fielder appeared to have stepped on the rope, consulted with the striker's umpire, who confirmed that the fielder had stepped on the rope. Upon this confirmation, a boundary 6 was declared in line with the MCC Laws of Cricket. Rather than accept the umpire's decision as stipulated by the Spirit of Cricket (in the preamble of the MCC Laws of Cricket), the fielding side in unison started to dispute the umpire's decision. The dispute initially started verbally, then the team decided that the game was not going to continue if the umpire did not reverse his decision and give the batsman out. The dispute then later aggravated to threats and later to insults for the striker's end umpire who confirmed an incident the fielding side claimed he did not see. While the chaos was going on, the umpires tried to appeal to the team captain (and some senior members) to get the team together, but the captain was adamant that the umpire should change his decision.
The umpires gave time for the team to return to play, but the time expired and the team did not return. Because there was another game waiting, the game was called and the third game of the day commenced. Never in my life have I witnessed such disregard for all that the game stood for. It was really a sad day for the game at the home of the game in Lagos.

It's unfortunate that groundsmen are not called to give recommendations. I would have suggested a lengthy ban for the athletes, and a hefty fine for the association represented.
But I'm a groundsman, so...

-  A Groundsman


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