Today in New Delhi, India
Apr 23, 2019-Tuesday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Spur of the moment exchanges should be allowed in cricket, not pre-planned ones

Workplace bullying is increasingly frowned upon in the wider community but in cricket, either the officials don’t consider these actions of that level or they don’t regard the cricket field as a workplace. Either conclusion is wrong.

cricket Updated: Mar 18, 2018 10:45 IST
Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
Kagiso Rabada,Steve Smith,South African cricket team
South African cricket team fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was suspended for two Test matches for shouldering Australia captain Steve Smith.(REUTERS)

The suspension of Kagiso Rabada and the resultant appeal has once again highlighted misbehaviour on the cricket field.

The two main forms of this unruly behaviour are incessant and inane chatter from the fielding side and the successful bowler giving the dismissed batsmen a send-off. Both forms of misbehaviour are uncalled for and should be eradicated.

READ | Vernon Philander says Steve Smith ‘as guilty’ as Kagiso Rabada, then blames hacker

This won’t occur until all concerned - players, coaches, umpires and administrators - stop saying that chatter is “a part of the game”. My first response to anyone making that declaration would be, “Show me in the law book where it states that”.

There is a place for gamesmanship, which has been around since the days of Dr W G Grace and the odd abrasive comment will occur in the heat of the moment. Other than that, batsmen are entitled to peace and quiet out in the middle and if it’s not forthcoming, then the umpires should ensure calm is restored.

READ | Kagiso Rabada’s two-Test ban: ICC to hear South African cricketer’s appeal on March 19

Prior to the South Africa series, the Australian team was reported as saying they might bait Rabada. At the time he was close to the required number of demerit points for suspension and Australia’s comments should have immediately raised the antennae of the match officials. Why the captains and coaches of both sides weren’t immediately warned against that course of action is strange.

Then South Africa reacted in similar vein when David Warner reached a critical point on the demerit scale after his altercation with Quinton de Kock. On that occasion, the riot act was read to both teams but why aren’t the officials pro-active instead of reactive?

READ | Lungi Ngidi rethinks ‘actions’ after Kagiso Rabada suspension from Australia series

Australia have been at the centre of many of these storms and their constant on-field badgering of batsmen is tantamount to bullying. Workplace bullying is increasingly frowned upon in the wider community but in cricket, either the officials don’t consider these actions of that level or they don’t regard the cricket field as a workplace. Either conclusion is wrong.

This form of badgering gives Australia an advantage against probably all sides except South Africa, since the two teams experience a lot of this behaviour in their first-class competition.

READ | Quinton de Kock’s ‘personal’ comment on David Warner has Australia fuming

It surprises me that teams like India choose to respond to Australian taunts in a similar manner. A well-timed smile or chuckle from someone as cerebral as Rahul Dravid would have a far more damning effect. There’s nothing a bully hates more than to be laughed at.

The fact that some of the ‘gentler’ nations choose to respond in kind to the Australian tactics should be a warning signal to officials that they need to clamp down hard before words escalate into something physical.

READ | David Warner hits out at ‘vile, disgusting’ wife jibe by Quinton de Kock

The more chatter allowed on the field, the more likelihood a personally offensive comment will slip out. The Warner-de Kock spat in Durban is a classic example.

While players have to take responsibility for their words and actions, it’s rather perplexing that some are encouraged to behave in this manner by captains and coaches. It’s not that long ago Australia chose a wicket-keeper, not for his glove work, but rather for his ability to score runs and promote on-field chatter. Fortunately, this anomaly has now been addressed.

READ | David Warner fined 75 per cent of match fee for Quinton de Kock spat

It’s bad enough that the hierarchy encourages this behaviour but the officials do so knowing it’s not them that receive the fine or suspension. It’s about time this situation was rectified; a few stiff penalties for all culprits involved in bad behaviour might change the outlook.

Good, hard, aggressive cricket is the ultimate aim and this will include the occasional on-field spat; it’s bound to happen when highly competitive cricketers are locked in combat.

However, these should be spur of the moment incidents and good umpires see those situations looming and act quickly to release some of the tension. Pre-meditated plans to verbally unsettle an opponent are not part of the game and they should be eradicated by strong officiating. If they’re not, then the players should take the law into their own hands; that WILL guarantee swift action.

First Published: Mar 18, 2018 10:44 IST