Game Sacrificed On The Altar Of Egos
Everybody involved in the confrontation between umpire Shakoor Rana and Mike Gatting in 1987 and its aftermath emerged with a tarnished reputation. Yesterday’s events at the Oval threaten to do the same.
In protest at the umpires’ decision to award five penalty runs to England for alleged ball tampering, Pakistan refused to take the field after tea. They should have learned from Sir Don Bradman’s wise advice in 1987, “you should wait until after the day’s play to make your protest.” The umpires then with jobsworthian vigour warned the Pakistan team that if they continued to refuse to play they would forfeit the match. By exercising the letter of the law, the umpires ignored its more diplomatic spirit. The point of no return had been reached; with the pride of the officials and the players at stake the game was always going to be the loser.
At this stage the powers-that-be should have informed the media and the crowd what was going on. Everyone should have realised that when the umpires removed the bails the match was over. This would have highlighted the pointlessness of Pakistan’s decision to finally take the field 30 minutes later. The good-natured crowd naturally thought play was about to finally re-start and it is to their credit they did not adversely react to being cheated out of a third of the day’s play.
So from being 33 runs in arrears, with only 6 second innings wickets remaining, England have astonishingly won the final test and with it the series 3-0. The second and third tests were won through cricketing ability but the final test was won via a dispute between the opposition and the officials that they had nothing to do with.
Perhaps those responsible for this debacle should consider what GK Chesterton’s Great Scorer, has made of all this.