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War of words mars opening day

cricket Updated: Oct 29, 2008 22:46 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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Ricy Ponting insists that this series is being played in the best possible spirit, but whether he still thinks so, after another day of verbal exchanges and even physical contact, is anybody’s guess. Chris Broad, the match referee, might well have to step in during the course of the match.

In the course of Gautam Gambhir’s six-and-a-half hour innings, he exchanged words with Shane Watson and Simon Katich more than once. The first flash point came just before tea, in the 51st over when Gambhir worked the ball through mid-wicket and set off for a couple. Watson, gesturing just as Gambhir was about to pass him, distracted the batsman and when he turned around for a second run, Gambhir’s elbow made contact with Watson’s midriff.

“I think it wasn’t deliberate. It just happened; I don’t think I need to get into this argument about Watson. I feel that he had no options of getting me out,” said Gambhir at the end of the day’s play. “There was no chance he could have got me out. There wasn’t a need for me to stick my elbow out. It was an accident.”

Gambhir added he was aware that the Australians were trying to force a mistake, but he kept his cool. “It’s part of the game. They were really desperate to get me out because of the way I was batting. They were trying to break my concentration,” said Gambhir. “The important thing was to just be there, be there in their eyes and not back out.”

When asked about the contact between Gambhir and Watson, Michael Clarke, the Australian vice-captain said, “I did see that on the replay and I am sure the match referee or whoever needs to have a look at it will have a look at it. For me, it’s important for all players to get on with the game.”

The second incident came after Katich, who had repeatedly tried to engage Gambhir in a conversation, stood his ground wide of the stumps when Gambhir was trying to pinch a single. This time, Gambhir aborted the attempted run and returned to his crease, visibly unhappy and again words were exchanged as umpire Billy Bowden stepped in to calm the situation.

Gambhir should consider himself lucky to get away without as much as a reprimand for he has a history of “inappropriate contact”. In November last year, Gambhir was fined 65% of his match fee by referee Roshan Mahanama following the Kanpur one-dayer against Pakistan. On that occasion, Gambhir and Shahid Afridi collided mid-pitch after exchanging angry words. Although both parties claimed the collision was accidental, Mahanama observed, “Even if the collision between them was viewed as an accident I still felt it was inappropriate.” Afridi, whose record was not as clean as Gambhir’s lost 95% of his match fees.

Clause 2.4 of the ICC’s Code of Conduct deals with “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play”.