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    June 06, 2006

    Last ball drama of a different kind

    Siddhartha at Cricinfo tries to decipher what eventually turned out to be the last ball of Indian innings. Now, I am not sure if Rahul really signalled enough from the dressing room to be interpreted as a 'declaration' and whether the batsmen in the middle conveyed Rahul's message to the umpires...because frankly, I am not sure if just captains signalling from the dressing room are enough indication of declaration of an innings. I feel that *offcially* on-field batsmen have to convey it to the umpires...but maybe someone can check up the rule on this(?).

    Anyway, the point was that according to this report, Dhoni mentioned Ganga talking to him. Now atleast the post-play Dhoni interview I saw did not have this particular snippet, where Dhoni said that Ganga walked up to him and expressed his doubts over the catch. Either way, the whole affair had so much of *unofficiality* about it - e.g Umpires not decisively ruling either way, talking to captain, then fielder, then batsman, then captain again, then on his insistance once again to batsman - that I don't think any action would be taken against Lara. And mainly so because of the inadequate handling of the incident by the on-field umpires.

    And frankly, even the on-field umpires cannot be blamed, because inconclusivity of replays here does not automatically mean benefit of doubt to batsmen. E.g. inconclusive replays on a similar line-call for a boundary mean umpire *not* signalling a four....and such an incident of line-call inconclusivity being used to rule batsman not-out has neither been written nor occured before. So none of the officials was sure what decision to take. In fact, there is no *official* rule about giving the benefit of doubt to batsmen in *any* doubtful case - that is just one convenient interpretation that has become the norm.

    So..lets call it one of those quirks of cricket, where pages upon pages of rules have not been able to capture all possible scenarios..and leave it at that. Maybe this is part of what makes cricket unique and interesting afterall :-)
    Thus spake worma @ 1:24 PM |
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    15 sledge(s):

    worma, there's nothing in the rules to indicate that the batsmen need to communicate it to the umpire. It is the captain's responsibility to inform the umpire and opposing captain. The captain calls his players in, an indication that the innings is being declared/forfeited. I suspect it's more of an accepted protocol whereby the captain doesn't need to explicitly inform the umpires & his opposite number about the declaration.

    You have a valid point in 'inconclusive evidence not necessarily meaning benefit of doubt to batsmen', but I think dismissals and generic boundary decisions are handled differently. If the TV replays don't conclusively prove that the batsman's bat/foot/body etc. was on/behind the crease, the batsman gets the benefit of doubt.

    I didn't watch the event live. I watched clippings of it on the news. Going by what I saw on tv and what I've read about it so far, given that there was no evidence to suggest that Ganga did take the catch cleanly, the third umpire should have (and did?) rule not out. My interpretation of what happened is that when the players were about to get on with the game, Lara stepped in and told Dhoni that he trusted Ganga's word and by extension, Dhoni should trust his. Now, Lara has famously "walked" everytime he felt he's been dismissed. But it was unfair of him to expect Dhoni to accept his argument that Ganga was truthful. Perhaps, had Lara taken the catch, Dhoni would have walked instinctively.

    I don't get why the on-field umpires did nothing to stop the charade. They should have put an end to the farce that was developing. Dravid's declaration decision wouldn't have taken effect until the ball was dead - i.e. either it was a six or Dhoni was out. So they ought to have taken the stand rather than waste time in listening to Lara's lecture.

    By Blogger Jagadish (06-Jun-2006, 2:31:00 PM)  

    With due credit to all his "walkings", Lara looks a cheap cheat here.

    By Blogger Ganesh (06-Jun-2006, 2:47:00 PM)  

    Dhoni did initially make the gesture to walk off but Rauf questioned whether the catch was clean so Dhoni stayed on.

    If Ganga knew he didn't touch the rope he would have made it more than clear rather than wait for 15 minutes.

    Watching live, Dhoni was not given out while on the field and it *looks* like the decleration was made to stop the controversy.

    By Blogger Libero (06-Jun-2006, 3:40:00 PM)  

    Lara should be penalized for a very naieve and unruly behaviour.
    I think I would agree to what Dean Jones says, which is "Batsmen should be deemed out if the ball is in the field of play.Line rules are an Ass at present and they need to be changed."

    By Blogger The Light-House. (06-Jun-2006, 4:40:00 PM)  

    While Lara's being upset is fine, his on field behaviour should really have been questioned, however clearly seems to have got away with it.
    In all the entire mess was created because of the way umpires treated the whole incident.
    I blogged about it here -

    By Anonymous amitken (06-Jun-2006, 4:55:00 PM)  

    jagadish: Point taken about the laws....but that declaration thing is still you say its more of a protocol thing. Anyway Dhoni did not mention that aspect in his interview (on tv as I saw, or in PC as I heard on cricinfo). Anyway, Lara is at fault in mishandling the whole issue...or rather being tactless...but mainly its the umpire Rauf who wasn't decisive enough in whatever he thought (as per laws, as you also say, he should have said notout). No the third ump did not rule anything.....seemed to have said that he cant decide...and Rauf, even when he decided to give notout, acted very lamely. Did not communicate it to batsmen or captain.....did not show any auhtority...sort of walked to his stumps...with all groups hanging in the field and discussing!!! I saw the whole drama live.

    Btw here's a clip.

    As I said...I think Lara acted a bit tactlessly....but not too much of breach etc...the umpires didn't give any verdict decisively enough.

    By Blogger worma (06-Jun-2006, 7:10:00 PM)  

    I think Lara was worried on two counts:
    - Target would exceed 400 in that over itself
    - Target would exceed 418 in the next over or two

    So he decided to do something to ensure the innings was terminated :)

    I actually don't understand why Lara's word should have been accepted. I hope when he's batting today and if he is about to benefit from a marginal call, Sachin Tendulkar gives him a ring and asks him to accept that he was out because Tendulkar felt so.

    By Blogger Jagadish (06-Jun-2006, 7:10:00 PM)  

    jagadish:'s Simon Taufel's take on the situation (courtesy one of the sightscreen readers)...apparently he just spoke about the reason why umpires couldnt decide

    "Simon Taufel was on air just now shedding some light on the matter. Apparently, as per the playing conditions, the decision was REFERRED to the third umpire (Billy Doctrove) .. IT WAS NOT A CONSULTATION. As such, THE JURISDICTION TO TAKE A DECISION RESTED SOLELY WITH THE THIRD UMPIRE. Which is the reason why when Doctrove was unable to take a call, there was very little the on field umpires could do other than try to work out a compromise between the two players.SIMON TAUFEL WAS CATEGORICAL IN STATING THAT BILLY DOCTROVE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THE CALL ... AND LIKE IN MOST CASES OF DOUBT, THE DECISION SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN FAVOUR OF THE BATSMAN!!"

    By Blogger worma (06-Jun-2006, 7:18:00 PM)  

    If Doctrove was unsure, it was the responsibility of the on-field umpires to take charge and either give Dhoni out or not out. Rauf and Taufel (Raufel?) failed to do that. So he can't just shift the blame onto Doctrove.

    By Blogger Jagadish (06-Jun-2006, 7:24:00 PM)  

    I've just seen the video clip, here's what I think...

    Can't say if it was out or not out, unsure. Dhoni by all accounts in the end decided to take the fielders word, which is to his credit. By defeault though, i.e. through the whole process of the catch being reffered and then the 3rd umpire making a judgment on it, he was not out. And Lara, in my opinion, had no or very little buisness in going on arguing Ganga's case, not the least when Ganga, from what I've not, was not quite as sure he'd taken the catch cleanly as him self, and not the least in a manner in which Lara did.

    I've not been seeing as much of this test, but I saw pretty much the whole lot of the England-Sri Lankan test (blogged about it here ). In that test when Mahela Jayawereden got out in the 2nd innings on his way back he had a momentary loss of compusure which resulted in him knocking off his off stump with his bat after getting out edging a wide, juicy longhopp from Plunkett. But even though he apologised twice almost as soon as he'd realised he shouldn't have done that match referee Alan Hurst fined him 20% of his match fee. Now given, he's the captain of the side, you'd take the point about his need to set the right example, but you'd think also, that given his quick apology and his general reputation as a good pro, the match referee could have been linient with him but no...

    And now you have this situation, where Lara clearly took out all the pent up frustration inside him on not only the umpires snatching away the ball from Asad Rauf but also on Dhoni (still think he had no buisness to actually ask Dhoni to walk off, the only person who was entitled to do so was Ganga, and Ganag apparently wasn't him self sure if he'd taken the catch!). His behaviour was totally off the mark IMHO and its proof of the ICC match referee panels' inconsistency and difference in the way the interpret the code of conduct that you see Lara getting away with it. Some match referees are swayed away by players reputations I have to say. Lara should have been fined, especially since he's captain.

    By Anonymous zainub (06-Jun-2006, 9:30:00 PM)  

    I liked Lara's comments after the game today. Lara refused to complain about the umpiring in the game - "They have a very tough job ... it's a job that we shouldn't be too critical of" - but he spoke about what had agitated him so much with regard to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's dismissal at the end of the fourth day. "At the end of the day, it's a sport you're playing and you got to trust the guy who you're playing against. There are situations where we can't come to a decision. Of course, it's left to the umpires. But if we can't back each other as a team, it doesn't say much for the sport. I just felt that the spirit of the game was being tested. As human beings, we all make mistakes but we all want to see the betterment of the game. And I think the best came out at the end of it. I had a chat with the umpires, match referee and Rahul Dravid after the day and it sort of smoothed the situation up for the last day. It took so long - 15 minutes for 24 big men to come to a decision. I thought it was ridiculous."

    Lara has an immpecable record with regards to honesty on the cricket field....maybe more cricketers should be like him. As for this situation, when you pride yourself on walking and taking the word of the opposition, I can understand why this incident was so frustrating to him. I'm glad the match referee has some common sense and will not take any further action on this incident. Sometimes there is more to it than following the letter of the law....perhaps the spirit of the law is more important at times.

    By Blogger Kurt Rudder (07-Jun-2006, 8:35:00 AM)  

    zainub: Certainly the fact that Lara hasn't been pulled up is surprising. I don't know if it is an issue about reputation. Chances are it is because the umpires, who should have controlled the situation, felt that their inability in doing so had contributed to Lara's entry.

    kurt rudder: I agree. It is just a sport. But at the same time, if it was all about trusting the other guy's instincts and words, why have umpires? If in the last over, Edwards or Collymore had edged to slip, who caught it very low down and the umpires were unsure, would either of the batsmen or Ganga (or Lara for that matter) accepted the slip fielder's claim that he'd caught it? I tend to think not.

    By Blogger Jagadish (07-Jun-2006, 12:58:00 PM)  

    interesting....all this attention given to Lara and yet no mention of Sehwag being fined 20% of his match fee for "the practice of celebrating a dismissal before the decision has been given"

    By Blogger Kurt Rudder (08-Jun-2006, 7:22:00 AM)  

    why have umpires?? that's taking this so far to the extreme that it's not worth countering. I do recall Gilchrist walking in a World Cup semi final....that's a big occasion. I'd hold Lara in the same vein as Adam Gilchrist when it comes to honesty on the cricket field.

    By Blogger Kurt Rudder (08-Jun-2006, 7:24:00 AM)  

    kurt rudder: Indeed. It was quite surprising to see Sehwag being hauled up for celebrating sans an appeal. This smacks of double standards ... or Lara's action were seen as unthreatening by the umpires. As for my comment on 'why have umpires', it was a rhetorical question. If the point was to trust the other guy all the time, why should umpires give people out? I'm still unconvinced about Gilly's walking. I've never had a problem with people walking. But they shouldn't expect others to follow suit. More importantly, they shouldn't leverage the goodwil generated by 'walking' and attempt to get opponents to take their word as the truth.

    By Blogger Jagadish (08-Jun-2006, 11:56:00 AM)  

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