Category Archives: cheating

Neutral Attraction

Me at the Cowdrey Lecture.

Me at the Cowdrey Lecture.

I went to listen to Simon Taufel at the Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture last week (http://www.lords.org/news/2013/july/taufel-delivers-mcc-spirit-of-cricket-cowdrey-lecture/).  He had some pretty interesting things to say about umpiring, it really made me think about how difficult it must be, especially with all those cameras on you looking for your next mistake!  He talked a bit about neutral umpiring, quite a recent development in the international game (1994).  Of course at club level, where finding a volunteer to umpire at all can be difficult, neutral umpiring rarely happens.  Most of the clubs I’ve visited haven’t had too much trouble with umpire bias, although this story offers a possible exception – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/1960s-club-bowling-legend-bert-davies-and-7-lbws-one-innings – the story features an umpire who gave his son-in-law 7 successful LBW appeals in one innings, but perhaps he was just bowling particularly well that day!  The point Simon Taufel made wasn’t that umpires would be biased towards their own countries, but that neutral umpiring was important as it took away that suspicion.

Mike Gatting and Eoin Morgan joined Simon Taufel on stage for questions after his lecture.  Mike Gatting was a particularly interesting choice of speaker as he was involved in a major controversy involving umpiring a few years before neutral umpiring was made compulsory.  The incident occurred in December 1987, England were playing the 2nd test of the series against Pakistan in Faisalabad.  There had been tension during the day when Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana had rejected a bat pad appeal, but things did not escalate until the last over of the day.  Shakoor Rana accused Mike Gatting of moving a fielder after the bowler had begun his run up in order to distract the batsman.  Gatting disagreed and an angry exchange of swearwords and aggressive gestures from both parties was the result (all observed on camera and broadcast across the world!).

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Photographer Graham Morris captures the moment – an image that was seen around the world.

Both parties retreated to their ‘camps’ and overnight it was established that Shakoor would refuse to stand the next day without an apology and that Gatting would not apologies unless Shakoor apologised too for his part in the incident.  Neither would budge and so the third day of play was abandoned.

On the evening of what would have been the third day Gatting received instruction from the TCCB in London that he should apologies, which he duly did reluctantly in the form of a short hand written note.

Dear Shakoor  Rana, I apologize for the bad language used during the second day of the Test match at Faisalabad.  Mike Gatting.

And so the match was able to continue and ended in a draw (which was perhaps the best outcome in the circumstances).

In most other sports an argument between a player and official on the pitch would not be so much of a big deal, but respect for the umpire has always been seen as vital to the spirit of cricket.  The event had a big impact on the cricketing world and renewed pleas for neutral umpires.

The idea of total respect for umpires is an interesting concept and one many cricketers were raised with as children.   Yet umpires are only human and do make mistakes, and where does the ideal leave DRS, a process that involves players challenging the umpires decision?  Simon’s lecture didn’t really answer this questions and the role of the umpire will probably go on being discussed for as long as cricket is played (even after they’ve all been replaced by hawkeye/hotspot enabled robots!)

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Filed under cheating, Cricket, DRS, England, History, Mike Gatting, neutral umpires, Pakistan, Simon Taufel, test cricket, Umpiring, umpiring

Naughty boys

I'm about to lose my beautiful old desk.

I’m about to lose my beautiful old desk.

Busy week here at Lord’s as the museum refurbishment is well underway.  I’m not involved really so have mostly been keeping out of the way, although I have been forced to take a bit of interested after finding out my desk is going to be part of the exhibit about Wisden.  I was pretty upset at first at being turfed out of my home, but have cheered up as I now know I will be getting a replacement desk (so won’t have to work on the floor).  It’s also nice to know that my desk will be admired by many, you too can come and view the famous desk at the MCC museum soon – it’s being displayed to symbolise John Wisden’s desk, but you will know the truth, it’s far more important than that, it’s actually the very desk where so many of my famous wonderful blog posts have been written.

Have a great new story on the TTF website this week ( http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/innocence-youth ) please have a listen.  I don’t want to spoil the ending for you but I will say that it involves a little boy being a little bit naughty.  His actions in the final over of a match remind me of the controversal ball bowled by Trevor Chappell in 1981, it was the last ball of the match and New Zealand needed 6 to win so Chappell ensured this was impossible by bowling the ball underarm and letting it gently roll along the ground to the batsman, a strategy not actually illegal at the time, but certainly rather naughty!

Trevor Chappell rolls the last ball of the innings along the ground to stop the opposition from scoring.

Trevor Chappell rolls the last ball of the innings along the ground to stop the opposition from scoring.

For some other examples of naughty boy behaviour I have turned to fiction.  In The Wicket Swindlers we a have a definite case of cheating, using a rather complicated method.  The baddies have invented a device that looks like a simple camera but can be pointed at the batsman from some distance away and will release ‘electrical waves’ causing the batsman to lose concentration and make silly mistakes.  Ingenious!  Luckily the hero of the piece discovers their scheme and sees them brought to justice.

The poor batsman doesn't know why he suddenly looses concentration.

The poor batsman doesn’t know why he suddenly loses concentration.

Perhaps a little less cunning, Harry Harper decides to teach the smug prefect fast bowler a lesson and stop him playing in a match by stealing his trousers!  Any young boys out there planning a trick like this should beware.  Poor Harry is spotted during his scam, ends up being accused of a crime he did not commit, his reputation lays in tatters and his plan doesn’t even work.  The lesson learned is that trouser stealing just is not cricket, avoid it if you can.

Steeling trousers can get you in trouble!

Stealing trousers can get you in trouble!

(Further reading: It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game by Simon Rae, The Wicket Swindlers by Anthony Thomas, The Boys Book of Cricket for 1950 – all available at the MCC library.)

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Filed under cheating, children, Cricket, school cricket