Daily Archives: May 18, 2007
The euphoria generated by Mahela Jayawardena and his distinguished group of sporting ambassadors keeps resonating over hill and dale in our war-torn isle. Despite controversial defeat all Lankans are proud of their performance. Allegations against the victors and umpires are countless and biting.
By Stanley Jayasinghe
Critics and cricketers, barmen and busmen, young and old, intelligent and ignorant, through undiluted patriotism have given expression to their grief and pride. They appear to have finally subscribed to the belief that what cannot be cured must be endured.
A fresh dimension has however been added to the once inflammatory situation. Having reached the ripe age of discretion, and read the multitude of reactions and views in the print media, this writer is of the firm belief that the remedies suggested seem preposterous.
Inserting a pounded squash ball into a batting glove is absolutely freakish, highly unconventional and begs reason. Diverse scribes appear to have distorted the aims and findings of Adam Gilchrist and his coach Bob Meuleman’s experiment. That Gilchrist butchered the Lankan bowling whilst on the way to a world record is a melancholy truth. But to attribute his return to form to the slipping of a squash ball into a glove would be acceptable only to a distinguished dunce.
This writer would have refrained from giving dignity to such baseless allegations but some telephonic enquiries from genuine cricket enthusiasts warrant a response. Pointing accusing fingers at Gilchrist, who has displayed excellent sportsmanship on the field on earlier occasions is blunt slander. Have disgruntled elements overlooked the description of the wicket as a “batsman’s paradise”? It then follows that it is a bowler’s nightmare!
The successful reality of the experiment was brought to light by this Australian duo only subsequent to strident calls for their blood. The reasoning that the bat tended to rotate as a result of Gilchrist’s loose grip is logical and valid. There is no uniformity in size and shape of bat-handles amongst sports goods manufacturers. Some are round while others tend to be elliptical or oval-shaped.
The country-wide outcry against Gilchrist, alleging cheating should be vented with even greater intensity at the numerous politicians and their “pandankarayas” instead. They unashamedly grabbed the opportunity that our cricketers provided them and indulged in an all-expenses-paid holiday in the Caribbean. And this rampage disregarded a Presidential Decree that only the four invitees allocated the privilege by the hosts undertake the trip. What unfolded with the blessings of the Sports Ministry and Interim Committee however was scandalous, hair—raising and utterly immoral. Such profane defiance of a Presidential Decree dilutes discipline and calls for stern action.
Nondescripts with political affiliations, and vote-catching agents of the Cricket Board hierarchy, surreptitiously wangled themselves in and qualified to view the extravaganza in Barbados. Amongst the parasitic retinue was a former Sports Minister who had been much reviled in press and legal fora. Having been installed with a portfolio during the “Chandrika Chintanaya” era, he continues to enjoy the perks extended by the “Mahinda Chintanaya” much to the annoyance and consternation of the sporting fraternity. If such shady practices are permitted, then it can be safely stated that sports and the much bandied “Chintanaya” as heading for the rocks.
Having dignified the ill-founded Gilchrist controversy it would be appropriate to substantiate this writer’s dispassionate opinion with personal experiences.
Dickie Bird used the same tactic
Harold “Dickie” Bird and this writer were regulars in the Leicestershire County cricket team of the early sixties. His credentials as a Test umpire were near-unblemished. However, as an opening batsman he was absolutely pedestrian in run-making. Adam Gilchrist was certainly not in the land of the living when Bird habitually resorted to Gilchrist’s tactic. Yes, Bird wrapped a fragmented piece of sponge, no larger than half a cigarette packet, with a few strands of sticking-plaster, and stuffed it into his batting glove before going out to the crease. He most certainly didn’t dispatch the ball soaring skywards as did Gilchrist. Factually, Bird never scored a six, to the best of my knowledge, during our association of five years! His reply to queries from curious quarters regarding the padding was that it minimized jarring of the palm. So the biased suggestion from some scribes that the ‘doctored’ glove enhanced Gilchrist’s timing is pure fantasy.
Now, in retirement, Bird resides amidst lordly comforts, in Barnsley, Yorkshire, with his Rolls Royce and Geoff Boycott as a neighbour. Readers are welcome to seek further elucidation from Bird at the aforementioned address.
A diversion from batting to yet another aspect of the game should be revealing and amusing in the modern context. Reverting once again to the past, when fast-bowling was in the ascendancy, a unique strategy was practiced by a Test wicket-keeper whose name remains elusive.
In the heydays of Frank Tyson – Fred Trueman – Brian Statham (England) – Ray Lindwall – Keith Miller Bill Johnston -Alan Davidson – Ron Archer (Australia) and Wesley Hall -Roy Gilchrist – Charlie Griffith (West Indies) there performed a wicket- keeper who tucked into his wicket-keeping gloves a strip of raw steak. He deemed it mitigated the jarring of his palm when gathering the fast-moving ball. Perhaps a more knowledgeable and better read scribe would be able to enlighten readers with the name of the stumper.
Not surprisingly neither “Dickie” Bird nor the “steak-gloved stumper” was reckoned a cheat.
Steadfast believers in Gilchrist’s secret formula need only arm themselves with the squash ball and ready themselves for World Cup 2011. Manufacturers of sports goods would readily offer sponsorship to wearers of “squash ball gloves” should they be in the Sri Lankan World Cup 2011 line-up.
Charity with a vengeance
“The living need charity more than the dead”, was a saying of old. The Interim Committee of the Cricket Board has practiced charity with a vengeance. It is an exercise in corruption and abuse of power and position. Most of the beneficiaries of this magnanimous gesture have contributed not an iota for the furtherance of the game. It is this writer’s unshakable belief that the thuds have been squandered indiscreetly in sponsoring questionable elements on all-expenses paid holidays.
A wrong is a wrong, whether committed by the President of the Interim Committee, President of the Republic of Sri Lanka or even the Queen of England.
It is this writer’s intention to propose three individuals a nonagenarian and two octogenarians who have grown old with good grace, after over half-a-century of service to the game. They have reached the stage of being too low for envy and too high for contempt. It would indeed be fitting if the Interim Committee focuses on the trio hereafter on festive and celebratory occasions. The nominees along with their contributions to the furtherance of the sport would follow in my next article for readers’ consideration and comparison. -Wijeya Newspapers
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