Ask the Readers: Do you play in the Spirit of Cricket | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Ask the Readers: Do you play in the Spirit of Cricket

An incident in the 2010 England-Pakistan Test series got me wondering how you play your games. Do you play in the Spirit of Cricket?

Leave a comment and let me know how hard you play.

Despite being miles ahead in the match, Stuart Broad threw a ball at Zulqarnain Haider in frustration at being unable to get him out.

Critics said it wasn’t cricket. Fans said it showed the aggression needed to win modern matches.

But right or wrong, it shows how the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ is an idea that belongs in the hearts of the purists rather than the actions of the players.

There certainly is little room for spirit in the league club cricket that I play.

The general attitude is to win by doing as much as you can get away with. There is little time for maintaining the unique character of the game.

Maybe you have seen some of the things I have in games over the years:

  • Batsmen not walking when they know they have hit it
  • Appealing when there is no chance the batsman is out
  • Batsmen getting sent from the field with a volley of abuse from the bowler
  • A little extra being applied to the ball to help it swing
  • Open disrespect for umpire’s decisions and opposition players
  • Sledging batsmen to put them off
  • Appealing for a catch that was taken close to the ground and bounced

If the game was really played in the proper spirit this pushing of legality wouldn’t happen.

All shaking hands at the end and having a quick drink in the bar together under the banner of Playing Hard But Fair doesn’t cut it. Everyone plays Hard But As Unfair As They Can Get Away With.

Which brings me back to the original question.

Do you play your games as the MCC intended?

Or is winning more important and, as long as you don’t get caught, there is nothing that is too far?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think.

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Plenty of sledging in both the field and while batting in seconds level club cricket here in Auckland, New Zealand. I've been known to appeal for many catches behind the stumps that weren't hit, and regularly engage in verbal dialogue with the bowlers while batting, and the batsmen from either behind the stumps or first slip. Great fun, the spirit of cricket is over rated.

I must admit I feel like it's part of the game, but other stuff is cheating (beamers, ball tampering). So maybe it's double standards...

I play as a batsman and don't mind engaging with a fielder or a bowler to get myself going, but I will always walk if I know i hit it. In the field I dont mind having a word with the batsman to put him off, and with the ball, the odd stare can help me get a wicket by ruffling the feathers. I think I play witin the spirit in the game as nothing i ever do is in malice. Also, I play at a decent club level in Sydney.

That's just it, if you look at the Spirit of Cricket section in the Laws it specifically mentions stuff like putting the batsman off. SO has the spirit changed since 2000 or has it never been that way?

1, 2, 4 and 7 are just blatant cheating. No place for that ever. Though i must say it's quite amusing to have a fielder appealing for an LBW that barely glanced the pad on it's way down to fine leg - he seems quite genuine.

All the other areas are a bit grey and can be quite appropriate at times. Batsmen sledging the bowler is so novel i'm not sure what to think!

Playing the game as the MCC intended actually sounds like it'd make things a little more boring...not that i'd stop playing.

Can you say you have never seen those things happen though? What happens to cricket when these things happen?

Surely there is nothing wrong with sledging. It is a part of the game and always will be. As a batsman you need to be able to put up with it and not let it distract you, you need to be able to keep focused and not listen to them. It is a skill that is required to be a decent batsman.

My point is, the Spirit specifically mentions it as not on. So, what is right?

At village level, a bit of friendly banter never goes a miss. I like a bit of talk when I'm in and batting. It make my stroke play seem less boring.

David @13:46 - no I haven't seen those, though i've only been playing for three seasons in a very low grade. Based on the behaviour of professional cricketers (they'd do about all seven?) I'd say the bad behaviour increases as the stakes get higher. However I have seen open disrespect for umpires in my grade, which is very likely because they think the umpires (opposing team's players) are biased so 'who cares'.

"What happens to cricket when these things happen?"

I think all enjoy it less. No one's going to enjoy a victory more because they cheated. At that point winning would seem to be the only thing - a goal that must be grimly attained by most if not any means.

As a newly qualified umpire at Level 2, I take an extremely dim view of most of the areas you raise. I'd also add that when players start swearing, even at themselves, I usually bring this to the Captains attention. I am afraid that there are some players out there who do think the Spirit can be ignored. That's fine if they never expect to play at representative levels: if they do, then they need to read the Spirit and the Laws.

Actually, I think all this guff about the spirit of cricket is hypocritical and unhelpful nonsense. Baseball has a much healthier attitude: the players are positively expected to try to get away with as much as they can and the umpires are responsible for stopping them. No-one on either side gets annoyed or accuses the other of "cheating" because they know that they would do exactly the same thing. As long as everyone plays with a smile on their face then there are no problems. In cricket any hint of bending the rules is met with a torrent of verbal and often even physical intimidation.
I have no problem with a batsman not walking and a bowler appealing when its going down the leg side. Leave it to the umpires to make the decisions and get on with the game in good grace.

The difference in baseball, AB, is that the stakes are a bit lower in the sense that a batsman's day is OVER if he gets out. That's IT until next week. Baseball batters get many more chances each game.

I agree; also, the rules of the game in cricket are often very subjective - LBW's, fine edges, grassed catches... the spirit of the game is very useful in players policing things themselves and not leaving umpires with impossible decisions... things like benefit of the doubt, being honest about catching a ball before it bounced, walking, not questioning the umpire's decision are honourable and to be encouraged. No one wants a prissy game thats more worried about form than performance but I would hate cricket without the notion of honour in your conduct.

I should've said:

"The difference in baseball, AB, is that the stakes are a bit lower for a batter than in cricket. In cricket a batsman's day is OVER if he gets out, which means any cheating or 'gamesmanship' can potentially ruin someone's whole day. Horrible way to play".

A late addition to this topic, but still relevant given some of the discussions about the Spirit of Cricket in other articles.

Three things from me here -

(1) @AB - Interesting that you bring up the concept of cheating in baseball; I think you'll find that baseball has its own "code of honor" that tends to be based on tradition, and things like stealing the signs of an opposing team attract the same sort of level of approbrium as serious cheating in cricket (and not to mention the effect of PEDs within the sport as well).

(2) @DonBradmansDuck - I have to agree that the Spirit of Cricket HELPS if all sides are prepared to abide by it, but as is increasingly often the case you'll have batsmen that refuse to walk when they've edged it, bowlers who appeal for anything just to put pressure on the umpire and fielders claiming catches they know have bounced. Also, to note there is absolutely no reference to the batsman getting the "benefit of the doubt" in the laws of the game, nor in the Spirit of Cricket.

(3) @SimonClark - I'm disappointed to hear you suggest that the Spirit of Cricket is fine to be ignored by players who are not going to play at representative level, particularly as a qualified umpire. Surely the principle is at least as much about setting an example to others (who might well find themselves playing representative cricket) and respecting both the opposition and the umpire, as it is of benefit to the player in question (though as recently posted, palling up to the officials might actually improve your chances of getting a decision).

As to the original question, I've seen 1,2,5 and 6 in games I've played, and it is extremely embarrassing. "Sledging" is someone ambiguous - there's a difference between having a chat and banter with the opposition and a deliberate attempt to wind them up (though as an irregular batsman, I tend to use some self-deprecating humour to try and defuse any jibes aimed at me - after all, better that they underestimate what you can do!)

As far as I'm concerned, as long as people umpire honestly and keep it friendly in the field, then anything else is fair game.

As a bowler, I don't expect people to walk after they nick it to the keeper, but I do expect the umpire to stick his finger up. As a batsman, I don't expect the bowler not to appeal when I inside edge it onto my pad, but I hope the umpire spotted it. I don't walk, and I certainly appeal even if I think it was missing leg.

I don't mind my fielders claiming uncertain catches, I don't mind the batsmen standing there refusing to take their word, and I expect the umpire to make a decision based on what he saw with his own eyes, not some silly notion of who can pull the most honest face.

However, any backchat to the batsman and the fielder gets a stern talking to. That's not how we do things. We're a friendly team with honest umpires and we have a reputation to uphold.

Refusing to walk is not cheating. If you're at all unsure whether you hit the ball, just let the umpire decide, he's not standing there for fun. If one of my players walked for a teeny edge I'd send him back out there to get on with batting!

As a 16 year old playing mens cricket in Australia, I've definitely copped plenty of sledging, some of which probably pushes or goes past the line. I've copped it from friends of the opposition while bowling, and definitely gotten plenty of abuse while opening the batting. But I enjoy that, and it spurs me on and makes me more determined to score runs or take wickets. Having said that, some things don't belong in the game. In the case of low catches, fieldsmen should be honest and there word should be taken. Appealing even if you think it probably isn't out, and not walking when you know you've nicked one is fine. The umpire is out there to make these decisions, you're going to get given out when you shouldn't have been and not given a wicket when you should have, so in my view walking when you've been given not out is counter intuitive. I mean, on another day you'll get a shocker against you, so take your luck while you can. Having said that, openly disrespecting an umpire's decision isn't on.

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