Saturday, October 16, 2004

To Walk or Not to Walk !

I love Stephen Waugh and I love Adam Gilchrist but the following article puts things into perpective as far as the way they play their Cricket goes.

Batsmen consider striding into a bold new era
By Greg Baum (in The Age)
October 16, 2004

A whirl of arms, a hollow thud as the ball hits the pitch, a scuffing of feet at one end and a shuffling at the other, a prod with the bat, a snick, a catch. The bowler raises an exultant arm, the fieldsmen appeal excitedly and the crowd goes up, too. The umpire peers down the pitch towards the batsman, an inquiring look on his face.

What to do now? Two voices - let's call them Gilchrist and Waugh - argue inside the batsman's head. Gilchrist says: "You're out." Waugh says: "But that's for the umpire to decide. You have to accept the umpire's decision."

Gilchrist says: "You're still out. We're not talking leg before wicket here, we're talking caught." Waugh says: "I wasn't out last week, but was given out anyway." Gilchrist says: "Did you accept the umpire's decision then?" Waugh says: "Well, no, actually, I stacked on a bit of a turn, and was fined for dissent."

A second's silence ensues. The umpire hesitates, finger half up, half down.

Gilchrist says: "Well?" Waugh says: "It's the Australian way not to walk." Gilchrist says: "It used to be the Australian way to sledge, hurl bats, pass racist remarks, drink all night and vote Labor. Things changed. Australia has its own code of conduct now."

Waugh says: "This is different." Gilchrist says: "Is it? It's all about the image of the game, isn't it? You have to move with the times."

There is another pause. The umpire's finger is cocked. Gilchrist says: "It's bloody noisy out here. He wouldn't have heard the snick. The onus is on you." Waugh says: "It's his job."

Gilchrist says: "Didn't your captain say last week that it was easy for umpires to make mistakes in these circumstances and that it was up to the players to do the right thing? Didn't he say that he hoped his teammates would live up to this ideal even in a sticky moment? Well, here it is."

Waugh says: "It doesn't look as if he's going to give me out. I'd be embarrassing him if I walked now." Gilchrist says: "Very touching, your concern. Where did this compassion for umpires come from all of a sudden? I didn't see it last week. Besides, wouldn't you embarrass him even more if you stay and the replays show that you were out?" Waugh says: "That's his problem."

The crowd begins to stamp its feet. The umpire looks to his colleague at square leg. The fieldsmen cluster.

Gilchrist says, again: "Well?" Waugh says: "But no one else walks. The Poms say they do, but only when it is really obviously out, so that they get a reputation for integrity, and when they stand their ground for a really important decision, everyone believes them." Gilchrist says: "So the Poms are our standard now, are they?"

Waugh says: "Look, it's part of the game, like staging for a free kick in football, or saying nothing about a bad line call in your favour in tennis. Besides, look at bowlers and wicketkeepers, appealing all the time when they know it is not out. What about the pressure they put on umpires?" Gilchrist says: "Sounds like a whole lot of wrongs not adding up to a right to me."

The din is deafening now. Gilchrist clucks his tongue. Waugh says: "C'mon. Look at the dustbowl of a pitch they've served up here. That's cheating, if ever I saw it. This is only evening things up a bit." Gilchrist says: "Now you sound like one of those feeble-minded talkback radio callers. You're a Test cricketer, a professional. You're better than that."

Waugh says: "But I've only made four. I might lose my place in the team." Gilchrist says: "Darren Lehmann didn't worry too much about his place in the team the other day when he said Michael Clarke should play every Test for the next 10 years." Waugh says (beneath his breath): "They don't call him Boof for nothing!" Gilchrist says: "Pardon?" Waugh says: "Nothing, nothing."

The crowd's noise has become a howling. The umpire looks rattled, the fieldsmen furious. The two voices are struggling to hear each other. Waugh says: "You know, I'm not even sure if the fieldsman caught the ball cleanly." Gilchrist says: "You're supposed to take the word of the fieldsman now. Your captain said it's team policy." Waugh says: "(indistinct) Meddler!"

Gilchrist says: "Look, it's one innings, in one match. It feels like life and death to you now, but there's a bigger picture here. I'm not going to give you the usual nonsense about cricket being a gentleman's game because it's always been played by rogues, too.

"I'm just saying that plenty of good things have happened in cricket in the last few years, and this is a chance for another. We've always said we have a good enough team to get out of any corner. Well, let's see."

Suddenly, our batsman turned and trundled off. The crowd's howling stopped, to be replaced by applause. The fielders joined in. The umpire's smile was sheepish, but relieved. Later that night, the batsman and his two voices shared a beer.

And here's another article on Gilchrist ...

Captain Courageous
Peter English (Wisden Cricinfo)
October 16, 2004

In his fifth Test as captain, Adam Gilchrist has taken responsibility to a new level. By batting at No.3 in Australia's second innings, he gave his side their only chance of saving the match. After three days behind the stumps in the sort of heat that saps energy even out of the locals, Gilchrist could have cooled off in the air-conditioning and waited his turn. Instead he stepped back into the furnace with his team facing a deficit of 88 runs.

A promotion always brings extra spring to one's step, and Gilchrist somehow found the strength to bounce out. His normal position might have offered a night's respite, but it also carried the danger of being stranded – as Simon Katich was in the first innings – in another lower-order implosion. Australia's bowlers, no matter how hard they try, will be lucky to hang around as long as the drinks breaks that look like desert caravans with their chairs, umbrellas and towels. Going in early became Gilchrist's only option.

When Ricky Ponting was ruled out with a broken thumb, Gilchrist considered becoming his short-term replacement at No. 3. As Ponting's recovery slowed, the move was aborted because it was too difficult. Now everybody saw why. He had already crouched through 134 overs, rotating the bowlers and generally ignoring the part-timers, and tried to stay cool in a situation that worsened with dropped catches and stubborn resistance. An ice scarf offered little relief.

Having re-considered the decision at a crucial stage of the match and series, Gilchrist's early play was indecisive. Both spinners were on, catchers hovered. He wasn't sure whether to use bat or pad, and almost played on to Anil Kumble. Sometimes he jumped down the wicket and scooted back, reading the ball more from the pitch than the hand. He wanted to play shots, but wasn't sure which ones.

There were further miscues, a top-edge to safety and then on 31 he connected with a sweep and it raced to the boundary. Another went the same way to take him to 40. His confidence was growing before he lost the calming influence of Katich. Damien Martyn walked out and thoughts returned to Kandy in March, when they shared a 200-run stand in similar circumstances. The promotion ploy had worked then, when Australia had trailed by 91 and Gilchrist stepped in for Ponting, blasting 144 to set up a narrow win.

This time the brief was too difficult and the series should be squared tomorrow. The pair moved Australia into credit, but with two overs until stumps, Gilchrist was bowled around his legs trying to sweep a Kumble wrong'un. After dripping for 81 balls he could no longer ward off the risks of spin or fatigue. It was a courageous effort. He has given a new definition to multi-tasking.

Finally, apna Sehwag !! Congratulations on a Great return to form! The Indian middle order has more often than not underperformed whenever Sehwag and his opening partner have not given them a good start. Here's a quote about the only Test Triple Centurion from India.

He is an explosive but tantalising opponent, producing fours and chances almost in equal measure. If Rahul Dravid is known as The Wall, for usually being so impenetrable, Sehwag is the The Fence, a significant obstacle, but with a few more holes


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