The Kiwis Gutted But Gracious

By Chishty Mujahid - July 29, 2019

The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 is washed and swept away. At last, with a little bit of huff and a little bit of puff, the “Mother Country” playing at home is the victors after 44 years of the tournament being floated.

The inaugural 1975 final was also played on the hallowed turf of Lord’s and won by the West Indies. All the other 11 finals had been clear victories for those who became champions although some had been close and exciting finishes. Australia has won the title 5 times; India and the West Indies twice each; while Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been victors once. But all had been clear and decisive.

This one was rather bizarre, to put it mildly. It was a tied game and decided on a ridiculous and inequitable rule called “the Super over” following an even more laughable law about overthrows and its erroneous interpretation by the field umpires. In all fairness as the match was so close to calling, the trophy and the prize money should have been shared.

As a non-cricketing caller put it “how come England won when NZ lost only 8 wickets and England all 10 for the same total”! Point well-made and well taken by me. But will the deaf ears of the ICC take any notice? Now nearly after a week, the England captain felt the result was not fair when there was so little to separate England and New Zealand in the final. And ten days after the event one of the umpires come up with the “confession” that giving six runs of the overthrow was an error of judgment (it should have been 5).

Taking note of the controversial finish to the World Cup final, the ICC has asked its Cricket Committee to review the tie-breaker rule. About time. What took all of them so long? Perhaps sleepless nights and an attempt to clear their guilty consciences. Has anyone considered the giving of US$ one million to New Zealand as their share of England’s prize money.

Winner’s prize remembers was US $ 4 million and the runners up US$ 2 million. Let us as a beginning and gesture of apology and goodwill have England and New Zealand receive equal shares of US$ 3 million each. We can then think of revisiting the entire matter and decide whether the original decision can be revoked and the title shared – nothing new as this has
happened in Asia Cup when India and Sri Lanka shared the trophy after two days of rain washed out the final in Colombo.

I have always held New Zealand in the highest esteem and their behavior and approach throughout the World Cup did nothing to shake this feeling. After the traumatic defeat at Lord’s on 14th July, they were gutted but very proper and gracious in defeat. Well played New Zealand. You may have “lost” the World Cup but you won the hearts of the entire cricketing world.

As Eoin Morgan put it “I don’t think it’s fair to have a result like that when there’s very little between the sides. I don’t think there was one moment that you could say: ‘That actually cost the game there.” It was quite balanced.

One big turning point, however, came in the final over of England’s chase. When it was looking like New Zealand were the favorites, Martin Guptill’s throw from the deep deflected off Ben Stokes’ bat to give England four extra runs in overthrows, dragging the hosts ahead in the contest. There is a report that James Anderson who is a county colleague of Stokes has said
that besides profusely apologizing Stokes also offered to have the extra runs deducted; if correct it was jolly decent of him, but in cricket, the umpires are the ultimate authority!
Law 19.8 of the ICC rules, pertaining to ‘Overthrow or wilful act of fielder’, states: “If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the willful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side, and the allowance for the boundary, and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.

As most laws this, with the utmost respect, is very confusing and open to various interpretations. Look at what is a willful act and how is it different from overthrow. The point to note is “if they had already crossed…..” In the case of Stokes and Rashid they had not while taking the second run. It is in such cases that the third umpire should take action on his own as the on-field umpires only have two eyes each and cannot be expected to look at the entire field and the bowler and batsmen at the same time.

I rest my case, and the rest as Shakespeare said in *Hamlet *“is silence.” I have never been able to fathom why some top-class cricketers wait for occasions like the World Cup to retire? Why can’t they call it a day when they are at the crest of their careers and go in glory rather than depart with deflated egos. We also do not know the real ages of these heroes as
has been amply demonstrated by Shahid Afridi’s confession in his book published recently. According to the cricketer himself, he was 21 when he was playing Under-19 and his age was given as 16!!

A prime example is Shoaib Malik. His contribution to Pakistan cricket over the years has been immense. But in England his contribution had been negligible. He was selected in the World Cup squad but he left the team and scooted off for 10 days to attend to personal work. Shoaib could have been easily left out and given more time to promote various products in TV and
radio commercials. But his clout is said to be such that no selection committee and the board could dare leave him out.

Hafeez had a bad event. Although he is one of my favorite cricket personalities being a tremendous performer and a very knowledgeable and engaging conversationalist, I would still recommend that he should quit big-time cricket.

Among the South Africans Imran Tahir and Jean Paul Duminy announced their retirements before the cup. After the event, the future of Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and also Francois Du Plesis appears a bit bleak. Among the Sri Lankans many like Chandimal, Dickwella, Tharanga, Akila Dhananjaya and Sandkan had been left out before the event. After Sri Lanka’s poor showing
more departures are on the cards like Malinga, Jeevan Mendis, Jeffrey Vandersay and who knows even Lahiru Thrimanne. For India with all the flak received by Dhoni the axe will certainly fall on him. Rayudu seeing the writing on the wall has already announced his retirement. India will have to relook at the performance and form of their two left-arm spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadav.

They mishandled Ravinder Jadeja and he should be restored as a regular in the Indian line-up. Also, Ashwin, Rahane, Pujara, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma need to be called back. Australia is well served as are New Zealand and England. Bangladesh did well and they may let Mashrafe bin Murtaza decide his own future while the rest of the squad looks quite settled.

The West Indies need a few changes here and there particularly in the spinning department while Afghanistan requires a massive overhaul. It was quite clear that there are dissensions among their ranks and all are not on the same page.

Their Board has acted swiftly bringing in a 20-year-old captain perhaps the youngest in International cricket since Tatenda Taibu, Nawab of Pataudi Jr, Ian Craig, Murray Bisset, Graeme Smith, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shahkib al Hassan, Mohammad Ashraf, Waqar Younis, Javed Miandad.

A number of coaches and support staff will also have to be replaced. India has immediately on return advertised for an entirely new bunch of support staff including replacements for their Manager, Head Coach, and batting, bowling and fielding coaches.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is hemming and hawing. Inzamam has already quit himself. Mickey Arthur “who loves Pakistan and Lahore” is sticking to his rusty guns and because of his influence and clout, it seems that PCB will give him a year’s extension as they take their own sweet time to make up their minds.

If a foreign coach is needed why can’t the CEO Mr. Wasim Khan (a born and bred Briton) bring in one of his countrymen? The fielding, batting and bowling coaches should be also replaced.

But the big question is who will bell the cat? A fresh look is required as the Patron PCB announced in a public meeting in Washington.

Imran Khan said the overhauling of the entire management and squad and bringing in “professional” people were urgently required. Welcome news coming from arguably one of the best cricketers to have ever trodden on to a cricket field.

What the overstaffed PCB requires is, what in management is called a thorough “Greenfield” exercise, the right-sizing of the bloated numbers and the implementation of reporting relations, organograms, job descriptions and key tasks followed by annual appraisals. At the moment there is a lot of deadwood in the organization.

Domestic cricket needs to be held regularly and on Regional basis on revamped spectator-friendly grounds. I am sure a lot of work in this direction is already underway but as they say “tempus fugit” (time flies) and before we know domestic season will be on us, maybe a foreign team or two will peep in and then the showpiece PSL will hold all its 40 or so
fixtures in Pakistan as promised by all authorities concerned. Are we ready? I certainly hope so otherwise there will be a lot of egg on the face of the PCB and others.

Moving on the ICC has taken some significant decisions of late including the suspension of Zimbabwe, the revisiting of some of the laws of cricket, the abrogation of suspension of the captain and for fining the team members and the captain at the same rate for slow over-rate.

I am not sure but they need to revise some directives regarding the powers and duties of the third umpire. He should be allowed to intervene suo moto when he sees the on-field official erring such as for no balls, run-outs, stumpings, short runs, overthrows. A relook at the “umpire’s call” system should be taken and this ridiculous rule is done away with.

A batsman is either out or not out; no “maybe” situation. The matter should be clear cut. A number of instances requiring such steps did occur in the World Cup 2019 in which some of the umpiring decisions were pretty shoddy even by senior and greatly respected umpires.

I have always been at a loss to comprehend the sense and logic behind the rule that while fielding it is the captain who takes the DRS decision, while in batting it is the individual batsman. I am not sure if I know the answer but it is a bit silly rule as are a number of others and corrective measures are warranted.

Coming back to the decision to suspend Zimbabwe I feel that the act is very unfair to the players of that team. If it was because of rules of the election of members of the Board then India has a Committee of Administrators appointed by their Supreme Court to manage cricket affairs of the richest board.

Pakistan’s so-called elected board is an apology for democratically elected institutions. Sri Lanka and Afghanistan do not have elected Boards. Bangladesh has always been dicey on that front. And what about the quota system in South African cricket because of which a number of white cricketers have been forced to move away from South African cricket. So to
make an example of poor ZCU is very harsh.

If reported correctly the statement by the PCB Chairman that his job has started after the World Cup is very surprising. I am sure he has been quoted out of context because then the question arises what was he doing since last September? What about the decisions he has taken from then till the World Cup? Makes the mind boggle.

I know Ehsan too well to believe that he could have made a statement like that. To those who “criticize” his presence in the VIP Pavilion at Lord’s for the World Cup final, I say we must not forget that Ehsan Mani is a very popular and much-respected personality in international cricket.

He has served two terms as Chairman of the ICC and he and Mrs. Mani are invited to all ICC functions and events. He is also the incumbent PCB Chairman the purported statement notwithstanding.

Last but least, I was a bit surprised to hear that there was mismanagement in the media arrangements for the tournament. Some senior and well-reputed journalists were either not given accreditation for the finals or cleared at the last moment. On the other hand members of the medical profession and other persons not related or connected to international cricket were seen in the Media Boxes of Lord’s.

Very puzzling, because the procedure for this accreditation was very strict. I myself received the go-ahead slowly but after much scrutiny and long wait. Because of this one is unable to plan the program for coverage particularly in an alien land.

However, I am glad to report that the Managing Editor of this publication received accreditation “for all venues” immediately after arrival. Speaks volumes for the respect in which this website and publication are held.

By Chishty Mujahid

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