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Symonds living on the edge

cricket Updated: Jan 03, 2008 04:30 IST
Kadambari Murali
Kadambari Murali
Hindustan Times
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Andrew Symonds is in the middle of controversy again, this time after he admitted to nicking one off Ishant Sharma and then, not walking.

Umpire Steve Bucknor was the only one around who did not see that thick edge and Symonds, on 30 then, went on to make over a 100 runs more and change the complexion of this game.

Though Symonds was remarkably candid about his decision to stay on (not that he could say otherwise when the replays clearly showed him out), it is a move that has upset more than a few in this sports-mad nation. And, the gristmill says, was being hotly debated in the Aussie dressing room too.

There are already opinion polls being run on websites and radio stations, asking people what they thought of the Symonds and Ponting decisions. Most readers/listeners indicate they think the Aussie team lacks sportsmanship and that Symonds should have walked.

The man himself obviously didn’t think so. “I was very lucky. I was out when I was 30, given not out. That’s cricket though,” said Symonds later.

“I can sit here and tell you about my bad decisions as well, but I won’t.”

On this day however, it wasn’t just Symonds who didn’t walk. His skipper Ricky Ponting made a giant fuss about being given out leg before off a delivery that he played onto his pads. Ponting was naturally justified in feeling disappointed but in that case, he should’ve walked when he was out after nicking one off Ganguly to Dhoni.

The Symonds edge though - which one senior Indian player in a close-in position described as the loudest snick he’d heard in his entire career - was the talking point of the day simply because Symonds went onto devastate the Indian attack and rewrite the script of this game.

Asked if the decision would prove crucial to the outcome of the Test, Symonds remarked, “Possibly. I don’t really care mate. It’s happened and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

The three decisions, coupled with one by third umpire Bruce Oxenford, to give Symonds the benefit of the doubt when replays clearly showed he should have been given out stumped when on 48, has also raised questions about the use of technology in sport.

Finally, as one player put it, “A human hand will handle the details and a human eye will scan them. So there is still major room for error.” Symonds himself didn’t seem too keen on the overuse of technology.

Brad Hogg, who partnered Symonds for most of the day and played an ebullient knock of 79 said: “You’ve got to keep the human element in there. It creates a different feel.”

Yes, it does. At the same time, if there can be a balance found out between the use of technology (inevitable) and an immediate system of accountability for umpires (like the player hearings during matches), the cricketing world can be a much better place.

Ravi Shastri, part of the commentary team here, was livid. “I don’t know what I would have done if I was out there, in the players’ place. I don’t know if I could have controlled my emotions.”

The unfortunate part of the Symonds debate is that it also stole the thunder from what was otherwise, a wonderful example of controlled, aggressive batting under very difficult circumstances. Here’s what he said on things other than the edge.

On importance of his knock

I haven’t had time to reflect. The innings won’t mean much to me until the end of the game. It’s always a great feeling to score a hundred. It’ll mean more to me if we can have a good result in the Test.

On Aussie way of thinking

Australian teams have always prided themselves on fighting back and showing a bit of mental toughness and heart. This team is no different.

kmurali@hindustantimes.com