Suraj Randiv over-stepped the crease and bowled a no-ball. Let there be no mistake about that. In doing so, he denied Virender Sehwag a century. He could not, however, deny India a victory. India needed a run to win, and by over-stepping, Randiv ensured that India won.
Randiv’s action was deliberate. Make no mistake about that.
The hue-and-cry that followed that act, however, was quite comical on the one hand and shocking on the other.
Much has been made of an error in judgement. Much has been made of a rush-of-blood. The media has, as usual, gone on over-drive with this story! The over-stepping issue covered more print- and air- space in India over the last two days than a somewhat more troubling 10-line report of China accumulating arms on the Indo-China border! Talk about priorities!
But what is the over-stepping all about anyway? What is the fuss about? As a nation, India (through its media) seems to be madly obsessed with pride and this pride is unfortunately measured by sometimes meaningless statistics. The fact that India won is not enough — an Indian was “denied”. That somehow matters more!
India, it seems, cannot be “wronged” unless Indians are the ones who “wrong” other Indians. We can screw another Indian on our own playing fields (or through corruption scams or any number of scams like the CWG) but another person “dare not” wrong Indians. The point I am making is that, as Amit Gupta writes and verifies in an article on Mumbai Mirror, the “no ball” trick or the “wide” trick are employed all the time in cricket to deny the opposition runs. These “no ball” and “wide” victories are common on our maidans, as Amit Gupta mentions. But the moment Suraj Randiv does it, it presents an opportunity for the Indian media to get “stuck in” to another person who “dared” to wrong an Indian!
Our collective sensibilities are suddenly hurt and the TV anchors thunder “How dare he”? There is much chest beating and forehead slapping to be seen and heard.
Although Virender Sehwag was at his diplomatic best on the prize distribution dais, he spat venom at the post-match press conference and later Twittered proudly that Randiv had apologized to him.
Clearly Sehwag was miffed. He had lost out on a century opportunity in a game that India won!
But then, Sehwag is no Saint! He was the Indian fielder, remember, that kicked the ball over the boundary ropes and signaled it as a four to the umpires in a Test against South Africa. He did that to deny Hashim Amla a single which would have meant that Amla would have protected Morne Morkel from the strike. Was that against the “spirit of cricket”? It was, just as Randiv’s no-ball was against the “spirit”. But these things do happen.
The law is an ass. We are given the law book and must work with it.
We need to admit that un-sportsman-like behaviour happens. More importantly, we need to lose the halo around our collective heads and stop pretending that “only they do it”. Even more importantly, I would like to see evidence of “us” getting to get as upset even if “we do it”. Cos’ we do! In our maidan-s and in our Test cricket.
There are few saints out there.