Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Not too long ago, an elbow-gate incident had bruised the so-called spirit of cricket... and tongues started lashing everywhere. Another elbow-gate occurred yesterday... right at the home of cricket, Lord's.

I want to draw a comparison between the Shane Watson - Gautam Gambhir incident of October 2008 and the Mohammed Aamer - Ricky Ponting incident of July 2009. So first, I guess one must watch the video of the earlier incident to refresh memories. The video below contains clippings of the instigation as well as the elbow poking action, which attracted the ban for Gambhir.

In both the cases, the batsmen poked their elbows after being instigated by the bowlers. Shane Watson's instigation lasted quite a while. Then when Gambhir clipped a ball off his legs, Watson said something to Gambhir and showed his hand to the batsman when he was taking the first run. So while returning for the second, Gambhir also decided to show his hand a little more closely to Watson... and the result was the 'poke'.

Yesterday, Ponting got out to Mohammed Aamer. Now, Aamer got too close to Ponting at the time of his celebration (an act that we might refer to as instigation)... and Ponting, on his part, shoved his elbow towards Aamer. Ponting may say that he could not avoid physical contact with Aamer as he was too close to him. Granted! But he could have certainly avoided elbowing Aamer. The photograph here clearly shows that Ponting could have avoided the elbowing.
In the first case, the instigator Watson, who had carried on his activities for quite a while was fined 10% of his match fees... and Gambhir was banned for a Test match (and I don't recall completely, but I think there was a 100% fine as well). Compare this with the second incident... the instigator Aamer was talked to by the match referee (not even an official reprimand) and Ponting was left out of the picture completely.

Here is the official release of what the match referee Chris Broad had to say on this incident: "Aamer is a young, exciting, talented player full of enthusiasm for this great sport and that is to be celebrated and nurtured. But there are a few things he still has to learn in relation to how to conduct himself on the field of play. I told him that when he takes a wicket, he should celebrate with his team-mates rather than getting himself into the personal space of the outgoing batsman. It's a spirit of cricket issue."

Why this stark contrast? And to top it all, it was the same Chris Broad who gave his judgement in both the cases. I am not against Gambhir's ban... he deserved it. It was Gambhir's second incident in a period of 12 months... so there was nothing wrong with that punishment.

But Shane Watson getting just a 10% fine? That's crap! He kept ranting on and on during the day in the direction of Gambhir. In the video, you will see the first verbal incident between the two occurred when India was 42-2... and the elbow incident occurred when India was 155-2. So Watson had a lot of time to get under the skin of Gambhir before finally seeing him retaliate.

And now, Aamer is spoken to and Ponting goes free? That's crappier! If the same level of leniency and / or strictness is to be maintained, then Aamer should have gotten a 10% fine (as per Watson's rubbish judgement) or maybe more considering that it was his second incident in a short period. And Ponting should have gotten atleast a 100% fine (I am not stating a 1 Test ban because this is his first incident of such nature in the last 12 months).

I know there will be a lot of varied opinions on this issue. But mine is pretty clear. This judgement throws up a big question - how can the same match referee give such contrasting judgements on two incidents of similar nature?


straight point said...

ever thought why oz get involved with players who, at that point of time, is performing well against then against all expectations...?

gambhir then, harbhajan in oz aamer at lord's... is it just coincidence...?

Unknown said...

It's not a one-off incident, as you have rightly pointed out... I guess that every cricket blogger must have covered the Aussie behaviour at some point in time or the other (they have given us lots of occasions).

But the shame here is that even the Match Referee has not made a single mention of Ponting's behaviour in his statement. It's as if he did no wrong there!