“I derive a lot of my mental and my physical strength from my spiritual strength. If spirituality doesn’t teach you to speak up, what price are you paying? Speak up not for the heck of it but when desired. I’ve often been told that I’m a crusader kind of person. They say ‘you are in a absolute minority’ but I say, ‘No, I am, by the grace of God, in a majority of one’. ”
—Bishan Singh Bedi.
When two former India players almost come to blows on the cricket field with the choicest words exchanged, it makes for headline news.
When the two in question, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary, have an acrimonious history, it makes for even greater sensationalism.
Tiwary was dropped by his erstwhile Kolkata Knight Riders colleague and skipper during the 2013 IPL wherein he immediately tweeted that it was the worst day of his life. The offending tweet was later deleted with the current Bengal captain claiming that his account had been hacked.
Tiwary now turns out for Delhi Daredevils.
Last Saturday, the two were once more involved in a public fracas during a Ranji trophy game between Delhi and Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
The incident occurred in the eighth over when Tiwary signaled for his helmet.
The Delhi players were incensed believing it to be a time-wasting tactic.
Manan Sharma, the bowler at the time, had something to say to the Bengal skipper.
Gambhir entered the fray abusing Tiwary who retaliated in kind.
That was when Gambhir calling upon his best Hindi film dialogues said:
“Shaam ko mil tujhe maroonga (Meet me in the evening, I will hit you).”
Tiwary, evidently another Hindi film buff, responded:
“Shaam kya abhi bahar chal (Why wait till evening, let’s go out and settle it now).”
Tempers were raised further with Gambhir charging towards the batsman with umpire Krishnaraj Srinath intervening only to be pushed away by the pugnacious left-hander.
The players were later summoned by match referee Valmik Buch.
“I have huge respect for Gambhir for whatever he has done for the country. But today, he crossed all limits by making some personal comments. I was really shocked to hear that. I did not start it at all.”
Gambhir, too, issued a statement:
“At no point did I threaten or push any on-field umpires. Nor did I threaten to beat Manoj up. In fact, I attended match referee’s hearing post the day’s play where he accepted that he doesn’t have any video evidence of me pushing the umpire. On the contrary, the match referee conceded he had video evidence where Manoj is seen pushing Pradeep Sangwan.”
Buch fined Gambhir 70% of his match fee and Tiwary, 40%.
“Obviously they were pressurising me but that does not mean he has the right to abuse me. What I said, sledging in a competitive way is good but you don’t have to sledge taking your father or mother’s name. You don’t want to cross line when you play competitive game.
I spoke to him [Ganguly] and told him about the whole incident. He was very upset because, somewhere his name was also raised.”
Tiwary also took to Twitter—obviously— to proclaim his side of the story.
The Bengal skipper has since upped the ante claiming that Gambhir made racist (read parochial) remarks against Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis, in particular.
“He made racist remarks about Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis. I spoke to Sourav Ganguly and he is very upset that his name has been dragged in the matter. We will never accept anything against Sourav Ganguly.”
“Gautam Gambhir is not saying the truth. If I had done what Gambhir is saying why have I been fined 40 percent and him 70 percent.”
Gambhir may be facing a ban because he shoved aside the umpire Srinath. Cricket is a non-contact sport and simply touching an umpire physically invites censure.
The Delhi skipper released another statement defending himself from Tiwary’s latest allegations.
“On Sunday, Manoj Tiwary stooped to a new low by claiming that I made racist remarks about Bengali community and my favourite India captain and one of the best cricketers I have played under Mr Sourav Ganguly whom I fondly call Dada. Let me categorically state here that these allegations are baseless and Tiwary’s way of sensationalising things through his figment of imagination.
First of all I am a proud Indian who respects all religions, communities and sexes. Then, ever since I have had the honour of leading Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL I have been humbled by the love and affection showered on my team and me by Bengali community. I have said in numerous interviews that Bengal is my second home and the support of the fans is the biggest X factor for KKR. I can’t thank them enough for helping us win IPL title twice.”
“Dada taught Indian cricket to play aggressive brand of cricket and modelled the team to win outside India. His contribution to Indian cricket is unparalleled. Personally, I made my India debut under Dada’s leadership and can never forget the way he eased me into the team dressing room. Besides, I have picked up a lot of things from Dada’s leadership ways and put them in practise for KKR. It is unfortunate that Dada’s name was dragged in by Tiwary perhaps to gain cheap publicity.”
The media is always seeking sound bytes aside from the mandatory tweeted reactions from fans and websites.
Bishan Singh Bedi promptly obliged.
The inimitable Sardar said:
“This is a direct result of the IPL because of the competitive nature that tournament lends itself to for these so-called professionals.
I feel sick. I watched the TV report and this is absolutely shameful. There’s too much of this ‘giving it back’ attitude. All this while it was about giving it back to foreign teams. Now, this syndrome is creeping into the Indian scene. Give back something sane, not insane. And give back something good to the game that has made you professionals.”
“Look, fines are like loose change for these cricketers. You’ve got to ban them for a few games and hit them where it hurts. The ball is entirely in BCCI’s court.
They need to take to drastic steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated. This is awful for the game of cricket. Erring players must be put on the mat. They call themselves professionals. Does professionalism entail such behaviour? We have been too lenient with our big names. This is not the first time Gambhir is involved in controversy like this.”
There may be a bright side to this whole skirmish.
Just when interest in the domestic game is dying out, the passion exhibited by these senior cricketers simply proves the competitiveness of their nature and the intensity of rivalry at the state level.
There is hope yet and fears of spot or match fixing may be ungrounded in these games. (We hope).
That, of course, is not the point readers and young cricketers wish to take away from the sorry episode.
Shyama Dasgupta, in the Economic Times, writes:
“Firstly, about the attitude of the star players–internationals-towards the other players. A `big’ player will usually play domestic fixtures either because there are no assignments or because he has been dropped. It’s one thing for someone who has played just a game or two for India, but for someone to have played at the highest level with some distinction, the step down is a tough one.
They often expect, and get, star treatment from their state associations and from everyone else. It can get quite feudal, says a former cricketer. Another, also a commentator, uses the word aukaat. Worth. To mean that the stars don’t think of players junior to them as being worthy of being peers. Except, that is exactly what they are: members of the same team, playing at the same level.
Then, about the attitude of star players towards umpires and vice versa. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stories of bullying and of being bullied.
A senior colleague had once told me about a veteran international umpire who gave tailenders in the domestic circuit out if there was even a whiff of an appeal-what, you are going to score 100 runs or what, he is known to have told an upstart of a No 11 when there was a protest. It’s fair to assume this No 11 wasn’t an international or a former international. Sure, there are umpires who don’t back down in the face of bullying, but there are likely as many who can’t.
These things, the cricketers I spoke to agreed, just haven’t changed. Two of them–former internationals–admitted to having done the same thing in their playing days as well.”
Cricket is termed a gentleman’s game but the only true gentlemen on the field are probably the umpires.
What he said:
“Well, every man and his dog would have known that.”
Darrell Hair is bemused with the recent crackdown on illegal bowling actions launched by the ICC.
The Australian umpire, who famously called Murali Muralitharan in 1995, said:
“Whatever they’re doing now, they’re doing 20 years too late. They had a chance in 1995 to clean things up and it’s taken them 19 years to finally come back and say they want chuckers out of the game. I can’t believe that Saaed Ajmal has been able to bowl as long as he has, and they say he is bending his arm by 45 degrees [the legal limit is 15 degrees] or something. Well, every man and his dog would have known that.
I suppose what it does show is the general weakness of the umpires over time to do anything about it.”
“People say ‘you should be happy with the way things turned out’…with the chuckers being weeded out. But it doesn’t give me any personal satisfaction whatsoever. All I was doing at any time was just doing my job and I think I did it to the best of my ability. The fact was that no other ICC umpires were willing to have a go. Ross Emerson was very adamant about his thoughts about chuckers but they soon put him into the background.
I suppose I was lucky I had a few games under my belt so they didn’t want to target me, but they certainly got him out of the way fairly swiftly. It’ll be interesting to see how many umpires are brave enough to get involved in it. I said it in the late ’90s that if something wasn’t done about it you’d have a generation of chuckers on your hands and now you have. They try to emulate Harbajan Singh and Saqlain Mushtaq and Murali and that’s the problem. The crackdown should have happened on those players and the ICC should have let it be known that it wasn’t acceptable.”
ICC general manager of cricket operations, Geoff Allardice, believes the game has reached a tipping point on this issue.
“The game had reached a tipping point on this issue, when many groups within the game felt that there were too many bowlers with suspect actions operating in international cricket.The most prominent of these groups was the ICC Cricket Committee at its meeting in June, when it observed the ICC’s reporting and testing procedures were not adequately scrutinising these bowlers. They weren’t the only ones talking about this issue, as similar views had been expressed by teams, players, umpires, referees and administrators.
Since that time the umpires have felt more confident to report their concerns with certain bowlers, and their concerns have been supported by the results of the testing of these reported bowlers.”
In India, the irrepressible Bishan Singh Bedi could not resist firing a few salvoes of his own at his favourite peeve.
“I would like to see what happens to Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and Pragyan Ojha, now that umpires are reporting bowlers for throwing and action is being taken against them.”
“The rectification had to come from the establishment.It’s no doubt late, but better late than never.”
On the timing of the clampdown:
“Timing doesn’t matter for goodness. It was ugly to watch chuckers floating around – someone throwing javelin, some shot put and others darts.”
What Darrell Hair really meant:
“If you know it, your best friend knows it.Besides, should the umpire be looking at the bowler’s arm or at the batsman? How do umpires measure the angle with the naked eye? Trained dogs, perhaps? Something like sniffer dogs, eh? Can we umpires have compasses please?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I knew it and I was labelled a dog for it, wasn’t I?
What he said:
“Many of my students at my academy in Indore tell me: ‘Sir, I have bowled 60 balls. Sir, I have bowled 50 balls today.’ I tell them: if you want to make cream, you have to condense it, and that only happens after boiling it for a period of time. A good rabri [sweet] is made only when the cream rises. For quality you need quantity.”
Narendra Hirwani asserts that young cricketers do not bowl enough in the nets.
Nagraj Gollapudi chaired five experts—Bishan Bedi, Maninder Singh, Narendra Hirwani, Murali Kartik and Amol Muzumdar—in a far-ranging discussion that delved into the reasons behind the dearth of quality spinners on the Indian scene.
“I would bowl minimum of 90 overs a day as a youngster at the Cricket Club of Indore. I would bowl at just one stump for a couple of hours. In all, I would bowl for a minimum of five hours. If you are bowling at one stump you end up bowling about 30 overs in an hour. This kind of training, bowling at one stump, is equivalent to vocalists doing riyaaz [music practice]. You build your muscle memory.”
What Hirwani really meant:
“Practice does make perfect. You have to make spin bowling a secondary habit before you can add variety to your armor. Your fundamentals have to be sound.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Good coaches can incentivize young bowlers by offering them sweetmeats as rewards. The creamier the better. More malai (cream) and maalish (massage) for more majdoori (hard work).“
What he said:
A fake Quinton De Kock Twitter account was in the news with leading dailies attributing the above tweet to the chubby-faced South African opening bat.
Saeed Ajmal has been banned with immediate effect from all international cricket after his bowling action was deemed illegitimate by the ICC.
Bio-mechanic analysis revealed the the Pakistani off-spinner flexed his elbow as much as 35 degrees against the permitted 15 degrees.
The bowler can apply for a reassessment anytime once his action has been rectified. However, he is permitted to take part in domestic cricket under the supervision of his country’s cricketing board, the PCB.
Maninder Singh, a former India left-arm spinner, squarely blamed the ICC for the current mess.
“”The problem started with Muralitharan. The menace should have been stopped then. If that had happened, all boards would have taken steps to prevent this.Now it (chucking) has become a norm, it is like ‘if he (Murali) can do it, anyone can’.”
On young bowlers choosing the wrong role models:
“This has ruined careers. Whether you call it 12 or 15 degrees, it is to be blamed.”
On why English and Australian bowlers are not called that often:
“People there are basically honest, and they will own up. We don’t, and in fact start backing them.”
Former India all-rounder Madan Lal said:
“”Even in my academy, so many boys bend their elbows. They see lot of cricket on TV and try to imitate them. It gets difficult to correct them once they are set in their ways.”
Saeed Ajmal’s reactions:
“It is disappointing to learn the result of the biomechanic test in Brisbane but I have not given up. I don’t see the ban as a major problem as I know I can work out on the flaws and make a comeback.
Obviously, I have to follow their advice but from what I know is that once we get the full medical report, we have a right of appeal and to challenge these findings.
I want to play in the World Cup and see my country doing well and I will do whatever it takes to be ready for the tournament. I am a fighter and I know what I have to do to get back into international cricket before the World Cup.”
Bishan Singh Bedi tweeted:
At long last ICC nets a big shark but not b4 it devoured more than 350 Intnl scalps!Tragedy remains as many 'chucking' sharks still at large—
Bishan Bedi (@BishanBedi) September 09, 2014
Speaking to the Times of India, Bedi said:
“”It was inevitable. But it’s a decision taken too late, when all the damage has been done and Ajmal has taken so many wickets in international cricket.
What was the ICC doing till now? All those batsmen who lost their wickets to him, all those teams which lost a game because of an Ajmal spell, should they now come forward and say we have been wronged? If they can’t, then what is the point of rehabilitating these bowlers.”
“Most people who claim to be mystery spinners enjoy an unfair advantage because they are being allowed to bowl illegal deliveries.What is the point of correcting their action in a laboratory and then letting them loose? Is the ICC a reformatory school? A chucker cannot reform. He is merely rendered ineffective.”
What the Fake Quinton De Kock really meant:
“Saeed Ajmal can’t bowl! Saeed Ajmal can’t bowl! With or without his 35 degrees of hyper extension…Ajmal can’t bowl…”
What he definitely didn’t (or did he?) :
“I’m famous, not Quinton De Kock.”
What he said (via IBNLive):
“I believe in clean action. I belong to traditional cricket. I don’t believe in 15 degrees of all such nonsense.”
Bishan Singh Bedi is still not convinced of the validity of Shoaib Akhtar’s and Muttiah Muralitharan’s bowling actions.
The left-armer famously termed them “javelin throwers”.
Bedi currently manages the Jammu & Kashmir Ranji team.
What he really meant:
“Either you’re chucking or you’re not.Hyperextension—what’s that?”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’d love to coach javelin throwers. They’d make great bowlers; the right bio-mechanics are already in place. And the doosra is right up their alley.”