Buttler, Humbug and Cricket’s Moral Code

I may be a single, dissenting voice in the “controversy” in the Joss Buttler run out yesterday, certainly from reading some of the utter tosh in the newspapers this morning.  Ashley Giles called the dismissal “unsavoury” along with a whole host of rentaquote ex-players (who all work in the media so have to add to the media storm) and I have just read the MailOnline’s report that says that “the run out is legal but it is not something anyone would want to see a youngster repeat”.  Well speaking as someone who has coached “youngsters” (what a strange word) for over 20 years and who views the moral code of cricket as one of the bedrocks of the game, I would have no problem with any of my cricketers doing exactly the same.

What I find unsavoury is batsmen backing up way out of the crease before the bowler even approaches his delivery stride.  I have a word for this – it’s called cheating.  When I am umpiring schoolboys I loudly tell the batsmen that he should know that I will always give him out with no hesitation if he is run out in this way.  You see it all the time as an umpire, almost every game and almost always from the better batsmen, those who have played the so called “higher levels” of schoolboy cricket.

For what it’s worth, I think the Sri Lankans deserve tremendous credit for giving him two warnings before running him out.  The laws were altered a few years ago to give batsmen more of an advantage (I won’t bore you with details) and so comparisons with the “Mankad” incident are totally erroneous and irrelevant.  The idea is that this idea of warning should be removed from the spirit of cricket and of people are cheating, run them out and they might not do it again.  Buttler is not guilty of dozily walking out of his crease in some kind of daze as some commentators are insinuating.  He is making a totally calculated decision that it is worth the risk to try to gain an unfair advantage, a risk not allowed in the laws of the game, in the hope that he is unlikely to ever get taken up on it.  Well now he has, and perhaps he will stop cheating when he is batting and other younger cricketers will follow……  Rant over.

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