Some things in cricket are not really talked about by coaches.
However, controversial practices go on at every level and all cricketers should be aware of them to be prepared and to defend against them.
1. Controversial cricket tactics
There are not many more divisive issues than walking. Should a batter walk if they know they have hit it? Many people will say yes, many will say it is up to the umpire and you should always wait. Technically, standing your ground is not cheating, although many people consider it so.
Be prepared to be sledged by the opposition if you are a non-walker. If you are faced with a non-walker while in the field then concentrate on uprooting their middle stump ï¿½ they will walk then.
As a side point, if a batsman has a reputation as a walker takes the opportunity in a big game to fool the umpire by not walking he has certainly crossed a line.
Encouraging bowlers is a standard part of the game and not sledging. However, when comments are directed at the opposition we are clearly in the middle of sharp (if not illegal) practice.
The best way to deal with it is to turn the other cheek, although many players will bite back. Either way, the sole aim of a sledge is to put off concentration, so donï¿½t let it distract you.
The amazing appearing new ball
Many club games are played with no new ball. However Law 5.3 states ï¿½either captain may demand a new ball at the start of each inningsï¿½. A clever home captain can exploit this by keeping a new ball in his bag. If his opponents opt to bowl first he can produce an old ball, if they bat first he can produce his new ball to give him an advantage.
The simple way to avoid this is to ensure your captain agrees the match conditions beforehand.
Diving for the cameras
Many players don't fancy chasing a ball about on a hot day. To combat this, they make sure they do a spectacular dive so they canï¿½t chase it. This won't happen in a well drilled team with a good captain though.
Cutting off the shy
Graham Gooch has admitted he used to put his body between the stumps and the ball to avoid getting run out. However he could be out for another reason. Law 37.1 states "Either batsman is out... if he wilfully obstructs or distracts the opposing side by word or action". If you believe you are on the end of this practice then you should appeal for Obstructing the Field.
Did it bounce?
Catches taken close to the ground are difficult for the umpire to call. Dishonest sides can claim they made a catch that they did not. However, it would take a very good liar to look someone in the eye and claim a catch. As a general rule, if the fielder says they are not sure if they caught it, they probably didn't.
Excessive appealing puts pressure on the umpire and he has a responsibility to report this practice to the captain to take action.
Appealing is a simple business. if you think it might be out then you should appeal. If you are confident it is not out you should not appeal.
It is commonly accepted that a run isn't taken if a shy at the stumps hits the batsman and bounces away. However, there is nothing in the laws (or spirit as far as I can see) of the game to stop it from happening. As a batter or fielder you should be aware of the possibility.
Slowing the game
Many teams will slow down the over rate, take too long at tea and generally aim to slow the game down. In time games this indicates sides are playing to get a draw, in over games they may be trying to make the opposition bat in poor light conditions at the end of the game. Under the new laws, penalty runs can be awarded so donï¿½t be afraid to raise the issue with umpires.
2. Downright Cheating
The following is not acceptable under any circumstances:
- Deliberate fast beamers
- Tampering with the ball
- Damaging the pitch
Hopefully you will never come across tactics of this nature, but if you do remember they the worst form of cricketing crime and should be dealt with immediately by the umpire and captains and in due course by the governing body.
Whatever the practice, the important thing to remember is that the umpires are the sole adjudicators of fair play during the match. The captains are responsible for ensuring the game is played fairly and within the Laws and Spirit.
Have you got any more examples of gamesmanship, sharp practice or cheating in cricket? Get in touch with me and I will add your contribution.
(Spirit of Cricket logo borrowed from the MCC)© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008