Cricket is not a contact sport. There has to be zero tolerance for deliberate pushing, shoving and elbowing. It must be stamped out at the slightest sign of it raising its ugly head.
Twice during the third day’s play of the ongoing first Test between India and England on Friday, English bowlers crossed the line.
While the umpires asked for calm after a verbal duel between James Anderson and K.L. Rahul, they did not appear to caution the former and Ollie Robinson when they rudely rubbed shoulders against the Indian batsmen.
Asked to comment on the incidents, a spokesman for the International Cricket Council (ICC) said: “The match referee (in this case Chris Broad, Stuart Broad’s father) proposes any action in consultation with the cricket operations department once the umpires file the charges.”
Clause 42.2.1 of the ICC’s playing conditions governing the 2021-2023 World Test Championship, of which the present series represents an inauguration, says: “Any of the following actions by a player shall constitute a Level 4 offence:
* Threatening to assault an umpire
* Making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire
* Physically assaulting a player or any other person
* Committing any other act of violence.”
In other words, pushing, shoving or elbowing a player on the field does not invite punitive action. It should at least trigger a warning; and in case of a repeat offence, a fine.
If not nipped in the bud, the spirit of cricket, the gentlemanliness with which it is meant to be played, will be in danger.
(Senior cricket writer Ashis Ray is a broadcaster and author of the book ‘Cricket World Cup: The Indian Challenge’)