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Did Sri Lanka Give It Their Honest Best?

by achettup

In sentencing Mervyn Westfield to four months in prison for accepting payments to under-perform in a county game, Judge Anthony Morris said "For financial gain you betrayed the trust placed in you to play honestly and to the best of your ability." The crown prosecution service issued the following statement: "Devoted sports fans who pay hard-earned money to watch competitive matches have a right to expect players to do their honest best for the team, whether those games take place in the biggest world class arenas, or at their local ground."

How should "devoted sports fans" feel about the decisions of captains like Mahela Jayawardene and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, when they choose not to pursue a victory in conditions one can hardly call treacherous - on the contrary you might even call them encouraging - in the last match of a test series while they're 1-0 ahead? Have these captains and their teams done their honest best to win a match? Don't give me this hogwash about the series being at risk when hardly any wickets have fallen in the lead up to the declaration, for goodness knows how many overs.

Disgracefully, in both cases the risk was minimal. We hear a lot about Test cricket dying, and people losing interest. We hear a lot about players calling it the "ultimate test" and how it needs to be preserved. There will always be portions of a game, almost any game, which are boring. But to agree to a draw when there is ample opportunity to force a result robs spectators and the game alike. Test cricket is about patience, but you're only testing people's patience when you decide not to make a game a contest. Draws can be fun, results can be boring, but who has ever walked into a ground hoping that a team would call off a reasonable, and potentially exciting, chase so that they can bask in the glory of their banked result?

When questioned, Jayawardene's callous reply was "Well, we won the series, right?" Imagine if Salman Butt, on being questioned (and lest the point is lost, for robbing spectators of watching his team give their honest best) about the spot fixing scandal said, "Well, we won the match, right?"

If the ICC and the players are actually serious about wanting to save test cricket, and this hasn't become one of those fake "We must do all we can to end world poverty" quips you hear at every event from fund-raisers to beauty pageants, they need to start making sure people want to watch test cricket. One way to do that is to play to win. But nobody talks about this. Oh no, its far easier to say India and the BCCI are determined to destroy test cricket. A sham, the whole show.


Suhas said...

Agree completely. Probably wouldn't have minded so much if Mahela had been a bit more honest about the decision, but "we won the series" was appalling coming from him.

Interestingly we saw the complete opposite from Zimbabwe when they were chasing against NZ last year. They could have earned a creditable draw in only their third test upon returning; they went for the target and lost, but provided an enthralling day's play.

Subash said...

Take out that fucken sham of a law that says captains can shake hands at the beginning of the last hour. What BS is that? Fix that and make the players play on till the end. THat's the least they could do for the fans. If they are not gonna chase the win, they should at least play till all the overs for the day are done. Cricket still embraces all of its amateur origins while trying to be a professional origins.

Subash said...

*while trying to be a professional sport.

price per head service said...

oh what happened to the drawing joke on this post? I think I got used to the funny drawings haha but on the other hand, I like to read too :D