Days of our Lives!

August 9, 2007

Athers, Athers, you really are a kiddo, ain’t you, you filthy hypocrite!

Filed under: Sports — Santhosh @ 2:35 PM

Michael Atherton wants Sreesanth banned for bowling a beamer at Kevin Pietersen in the Sunday Telegraph. Among other things, he says :

Certainly, Sreesanth apologised to Pietersen immediately by raising his right hand but he was quick enough to turn to his mark leaving the batsman to dust himself down unattended.

Rather an apology than nothing, but it seems to me that the apology is irrelevant. The damage could have been severe. A batsman is conditioned to look for the ball on a downward trajectory out of the bowler’s hand, and therefore will not necessarily pick it up.

Moreover, an apology doesn’t necessarily mean it is sincere. With match referees on the prowl, any bowler with an ounce of survival instinct is bound to apologise, deliberately bowled or not. And the batsman/batting side has no option but to accept it, for if it is not accepted then the moral high ground shifts in favour of the bowler, whose integrity is suddenly in question.

Only Sreesanth knows his own mind, but there was a glaring absence of extenuating circumstances: the ball wasn’t new and the lacquer had worn off, making it less likely to slip out of his hand; it wasn’t wet; he had directional problems but hardly of the ‘yips’ variety. We do know that, since the ball landed at the wicket-keeper’s feet, he missed his length by a good 30 yards, an extraordinary failing for an international bowler. If it did slip, it slipped with remarkable accuracy, honing in on Pietersen’s skull.

If bowled deliberately there cannot be a more cowardly action on a cricket field; if bowled accidentally it is still potentially lethal. Either way it should incur an immediate one-match ban.

———

And this is what Atherton had to say about Brett Lee and beamers in the Sunday Telegraph just over two years ago (July 9, 2005) when the Australians were touring England.

The furore that has followed his rather too frequent use of the beamer is easier to justify. The beamer is the hardest ball for a batsman to pick up precisely because it pitches (or doesn’t pitch) so far from where the batsman expects. If it is bowled on target, as Lee’s invariably is, then it can be lethal. Lee was visibly sheepish after his latest beamer at Marcus Trescothick during the NatWest Series final. After taking Andrew Strauss’s wicket shortly afterwards he remained head bowed rather than celebrating in his usual fist-pumping fashion.

His visible embarrassment and immediate fulsome apology convinces me that Lee’s beamers are unintentional, although other international bowlers doubt that such a quality performer can be so far out of kilter. The other reason for giving Lee the benefit of the doubt is that he is such a demonstrably decent fellow. His popularity among team-mates, current and former, is legend. Michael Slater, one of the few Australian pundits prepared to speak frankly about former team-mates, says “he’s just a champion”.

———

Update :

Athers, the good ol’ diplomat, has come up with :

I don’t think I’ve ever received more abuse than after last week’s article on Sri Sreesanth’s beamer. Writing about Indian cricket or Indian cricketers ought to come with a health warning, such illogical passion does the topic arouse. But that should never prevent us from tackling the issues that matter, and the beamer, whether bowled accidentally or deliberately, whether bowled by Brett Lee or Sri Sreesanth, or by a wheelchair-bound black lesbian, should be penalised with a ban. The colour or character of the bowler is irrelevant, it is the damage it could inflict which matters.

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