Bangladesh skipper Shaikb Al Hasan did a Sunil Gavaskar on Friday night, waving his batsmen to walk out of their virtual semi-final against hosts Sri Lanka in the Nidahas Trophy tournament in Colombo.
Gavaskar, as the India captain, almost forfeited the Melbourne Test against Australia in 1981 when he asked his opening partner Chetan Chauhan to leave the field with him taking exception to fast bowler Dennis Lillee’s sledging after successfully appealing for an lbw.
Though Gavaskar was unhappy with the decision since he felt he had edged the ball on to his pad, he was livid with Lillee’s colourful language. Four years ago, the legendary batsman, now an expert commentator on television, regretted the infamous walkout, admitting he committed a big mistake.
But for the timely intervention of the team’s administrative manager Shahid Durrani and cricket manager Bapu Nadkarni asking Chauhan to return to the middle from the boundary ropes, the Test would have been forfeited.
Gavaskar said he would have been fined had he been involved in a similar incident.
Lo and behold, Shakib was fined for his boorish behavior and he, too, was protesting an umpiring decision in the last over of the match at an exciting moment. Some day Shakib will also regret his folly.
After all the ruckus, Bangladesh pulled it off with a ball to spare, thanks to the man who deputised for Shakib till this game, Mohammad Mahmudullah Riyad, to give his full name. The Bangladeshis were agitated over the umpires not ruling a no-ball from Isuru Udana sailing over batsman Mustafizur Rahman’s head. Even in that chaos Mustafizur thoughtfully sacrificed his wicket to give Mahmudullah strike. That was enough for Bangladesh to snatch the victory.
What’s more striking is Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan Papon candidly stating that the behavior of the captain and his players was “totally unprofessional”.
“The players’ approach during the final over of the match was not professional at all and they did not behave properly,” said Papon. He was noncommittal on further action, stating it that would be taken after the final once they hear the players’ explanation.
The Bangladesh Board in a statement said it accepts that conduct of the Bangladesh Team in certain instances was unacceptable on a cricket field, even if the events have transpired due to the importance of the match and pressure that comes with it.
Generally, the boards prima facie refuse to accept their team’s fault but here the Bangladesh Board did well to pull up its players for not exhibiting the level of professionalism they are expected to while dealing with a tense situation.
For good measure, it reminded the players of their responsibility in upholding the spirit of cricket at all times. Strong words, indeed.
Later it was also revealed that a glass door was shattered by someone from the Bangladesh dressing room immediately after the game and match referee Chris Broad asked the authorities to see the CCTV footage to see if the culprit could be traced.
Papon’s public stance was quite in contrast with his predecessor Mustafa Kamal who resigned as president of International Cricket Council (ICC), protesting ICC chairman Narayanswamy Srinivasan denying him the opportunity to present the World Cup to the winning Australian captain Michael Clarke in 2015.
During the tournament, Kamal even lashed out at the umpiring during Bangladesh’s match against India for a no-ball that reprieved Rohit Sharma to go on to make a match-winning hundred, and also a 50-50 leg-before decision going Suresh Raina’s way.
Individuals in team games getting into a fit of anger is commonplace, but the team as a whole going into a rage is not normally seen since there are always saner elements holding back the agitated teammates.
After winning the game, Mahmudullah was seen trying to calm a couple of his players, but by then damage had already been done, in this instance his captain himself making a spectacle of his unsportsmanship.
The last time a team forfeited a Test match was when Inzamam-ul-Haq lead Pakistan off the field on ball tampering issue whereas most international teams refuse to travel to play raising only on security concerns.
During the 1996 World Cup, Australia forfeited their match against Sri Lanka and ironically they lost to the island nation in the final in Lahore. England refused to play their World Cup match in Zimnbabwe as did New Zealand in Kenya in the 2003 World Cup.
The ICC should now take the teams also to task if they cross the line, like it has tightened rules to punish players for their bad behaviour, setting the case of South Africa’s match-winning bowler Kagiso Rabada as an example.
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])