What makes Lord's cricket matches so interesting
Regularly like clockwork, controversy over the sport of cricket explodes every few years. At times the survival of Test Match cricket has been questioned, but time and again the game has pulled through. Here are some of the great controversies that have shaped the history of cricket.
Bodyline: The largest of the crowd
When the English cricket team toured Australia in 1932-33, they had a huge problem called Donald Bradman. The Australian had put England's bowling on the sword in previous tests and was ready to do it again. To face the Australian ace, England captain Douglas Jardine took over the tactics bodyline .
These were fast bowlers who aimed short blows at the batsman's body. The idea was that the batsman wanted to hit the ball in the air to a bevy of field players near his legs who would make a catch and fire the batsman.
From a results point of view, this tactic worked wonders. England won back the Ashes (cricket's most famous trophy) and Bradman's performances fell from the extraordinary to the only very good.
But Bodyline was a PR disaster. The players were badly injured and the Australians were so angry that at some point there was a possibility that the country would withdraw from the Commonwealth. Bodyline has since worsened Anglo-Australian relations, leading to a rule change that limits the number of nearfielders a captain can place behind the square leg referee to just two. In the long run, the event did not stop Bradman. Until his retirement in 1948, he dominated the competitions between the two countries.
The Hansie Cronje affair
Hansie Cronje was the South African cricket icon in the 1990s. He was the captain of the national team and seemed to epitomize everything that made South African cricket a success. He was tough, uncompromising, made the most of his talent and was a crackerjack captain who brought the best of his teammates - or so it seemed.
But it turned out that Cronje had accepted payments from bookmakers in a match-fixing scandal that rocked the cricket world.
Cronje put the captain's armband out of favor and was banned for life in 2000. The South African cricket had to lick its wounds.
The whole sad story ended with a tragic ending when Cronje was killed in a plane crash in 2002. Cronje's name, while still revered by some in South Africa, is synonymous with everything that is dark about sports and bookmaking.
Arguing with the Referee: The Shakoor Rana Debacle
It was a hot day in Karachi in 1987 when the English cricket world was turned upside down. The reason? A great battle broke out between English captain Mike Gatting and Pakistani referee Shakoor Rana.
Rana had suggested that gatting cheat by shoving a fielder behind the batsman's back while the bowler, Eddie Hemmings, was bowling. Pointing and swearing ensued, and the next day the umpires refused to take the field until Gatting apologized.
At some point Gatting apologized and the match continued. But tour and cricket relations between England and Pakistan were compromised. In fact, England did not visit Pakistan again for 13 years.
Gatting was sacked as captain of England the following summer - for later having dinner with a barmaid - and Rana eventually disappeared into the dark.
The argument had an advantage, however. It helped expedite the introduction of a panel of neutral referees organized by the game committee, the International Cricket Council (ICC). This crack bunch of referees travels around in all games played between national teams. The panel of neutral referees has helped bring a new respect for the laws of the game around the globe.
Rebel trips to South Africa
South Africa's 21-year ban on international cricket as a result of its apartheid laws was a severe wound that sparked controversy after controversy. When South Africa was sent into the creeping wilderness under the Gleneagles Agreement in 1970, the country's cricket writers did not accept it. They began to recruit top international players from England, Australia and the West Indies to tour in quasi-national teams.
In the 1980s, these "rebel tours", as they were called, threw the cricket world into chaos. Players were allowed to work as individuals in South Africa - they trained and played for local club teams - but were not allowed to take these tours. Many top players saw this as an anomaly and happily took advantage of the large South African funds that were offered to them.
The cricketing authorities in England, Australia and the West Indies were tough on the rebels, banning them from playing international cricket and in some cases ending their international careers. The tours continued, however, until the anti-apartheid protests in South Africa were able to put a stop to them. In 1989, a team of ex-England cricket players led by Mike Gatting visited South Africa and encountered major protests. The players were well above their heads and the tour was canceled early. Within two years, the political winds of change had brought Nelson Mandela to power and overturned the racist apartheid system. South Africa returned to international cricket in 1991.
The Kerry Packer Cricket Circus
In the 1970s, the lot of an international cricketer was not happy as cricketers were asked to play for their country. for peanuts. Kerry Packer, the Australian media mogul, wanted to show cricket on his television station but was thrown back by the Australian Cricket Board. Packer took a bold move; He would pay the best players in the world a decent wage to turn his back on test cricket and play in a series of super tests and one-day games in Australia.
England captain Tony Greig helped recruit the star turns for Packer's cricket circus and what came to be known as World Series Cricket was born.
World Series Cricket took place between 1977 and 1979 and is widely recognized as a very high standard that involves the best players from around the world; including several great South African cricketers.
At first, the lazy cripple authorities reacted with anger and dismay to World Series Cricket and banished the players who had signed up. But in a famous court case, the Test Cricket Board, which was operating English cricket at the time, was found guilty of restricting trade. What soon became apparent was that the only losers from that Mexican distance would be the cricket game and the spectators. Soon Packer was sold the rights to broadcast cricket in Australia and World Series Cricket was disbanded. However, there were some interesting innovations such as colored clothing and day-night competitions.
The Basil D'Oliveira affair
Basil D'Oliveira was a fine player, a brave and hitting batsman and an accurate, medium-paced bowler. "Dollie", as he was affectionately known, came from South Africa, but because he was defined as "colored" under the racist rules of apartheid South Africa, he was not allowed to represent the country of his birth. So he came to England to play. He was soon selected for the English cricket team and made several brilliant appearances.
When the team went on tour in South Africa in 1969, however, he was not named, although he had already scored 158 runs in the last match. Allegations were made that England's cricket authorities had come under pressure from South Africa, who would be furious if Dollie toured.
An injury on tour in England meant Dollie was drafted into the squad to tour South Africa. The South African government reacted angrily and demanded that he be withdrawn. The result was that the tour was canceled and in 1970 South Africa went into the cricket-like wilderness for 21 years. Ironically, at the moment of exile, South Africa had produced its best team, which Australia had just beaten up in a test series.
Mixture of politics and cricket: Zimbabwe
There were high hopes when Zimbabwe joined the Friendly Nations Club in 1991. The Zimbabwe cricket team had performed well at World Cricket Championships and seemed fair. The decision to admit Zimbabwe initially seemed justified. The team didn't set the cricket world on fire, but it has proven itself, especially at home testing.
But in the late 1990s and beyond, as the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated, cricket standards in the country fell into free fall.
The Mugabe regime took control of Zimbabwean cricket and charges were made that the selection was made on grounds of race; This time around, black players are preferred over their white counterparts.
The small groups of top notch, mostly white, players soon became disaffected and the country began to lose very badly. In addition, some players, including the fast bowler Henry Olonga, decided to protest against the deteriorating political situation in the country - characterized by alleged human rights abuses and election rigging - by wearing black armbands on the field. Olonga received threats and soon left the country.
Zimbabwe was suspended from international cricket for a while, but then re-allowed. But it's fair to say that the game is still in turmoil in Zimbabwe.
Opposite the hurricanes: The West Indian fast bowling machine
The West Indies ruled in the 1970s and 1980s. They beat absolutely everyone, including Australia. But the way they beat their opponents was controversial. The West Indies have been blessed with loads of fast bowlers over a number of years: Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh, and Curtley Ambrose.
All of these bowlers were sizes capable of delivering the ball at speeds in excess of 90 mph. Teams have always had fast bowlers, but never has a country been blessed by having so many at the same time. Under successive Captains Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards, the West Indies would deploy four fast bowlers who take turns terrifying the batsmen's living daylights. You may think nothing is wrong, but ex-players and cricket authorities around the world had a different outlook.
It took the fast bowlers of the West Indies forever to flip their overs - often fighting for more than 11 or 12 an hour. Many people found these slow transgressions boring. In addition, it was incredibly difficult for the batting teams to get runs because of the speed of the deliveries, which regularly struggled with a run of 200 runs a day. Some players also felt that bowling was often aimed at the batsman's body, which in effect had an effect on intimidation.
For many cricket lovers, the era of West Indian domination has been a long yawn. Even the West Indies fans pissed off the cricket establishment in England, blowing horns and beating drums as they watched their heroes triumph. In fact, whenever the West Indian cricket team toured England in the 1970s and 1980s, the letters pages of the national newspapers would get full of missives from retired chief magistrates to referee harshly over slow batting and intimidation bowling.
The "spot fixing" scandal
In the fourth and final test of the England versus Pakistan test series at Lord's 2010, the young fast bowler Mohammad Amir runs into a bowl and plays a no-ball; Then he throws another ball and then a third. It was no accident: Amir acted on the instructions of his captain.
The whole episode was from a tabloid reporter from the now defunct newspaper News of the world who had persuaded the three Pakistani players Salman Butt (the captain) and bowler Mohammed with a stab operation. Asif and Mohammad Amir change their performance for money. The idea was to fix the outcome of specific deliveries so that money could be made from the spot betting market.
However you cut it, it was an attempt to defraud bookmakers and discredit the wider game of cricket. All three players were banned from cricket for different periods of time, but more seriously they were tried in an English court for conspiracy against gambling and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments. In November 2011, prison sentences of 30 months were imposed. Butt, one year for Asif, six months for Amir and two years eight months for the businessman Mazhar Majeed, for his part in the syndicate.
In the wake of the scandal, the International Cricket Council put 80 previous matches - both in one day and in test formats - on a list of those where suspicious activity may have taken place. In addition, the scourge of spot fixation in the Indian Premier League recently raised its head and indicted several high profile players. The one silver lining is that it seems that after the spot-fixing scandal and that of the earlier Hansie Cronje affair, the game of cricket is finally waking up to the dangers posed by the lure of bookmakers and professional gamblers.
Gentlemen v Players
For much of English cricket history, there was some sort of class distinction between gentlemen - who were amateurs - and players who were professionals. The gentlemen were given plush changing rooms and, since they were often members of the landed gentry, were treated with respect and referred to as "Mister" on scorecards. If they had a bigger title like "Sir", "Lord" or "The Honorable" they would be called that. The players, on the other hand, were mostly working class and couldn't afford to play the game for fun - they needed cold, hard money. They had to be content with moving to outbuildings and were only referred to by their last name and the first one on the scorecard.
But all this class snobbery didn't stop suppressing sham aminoism. The biggest mock amateur of the game was England's batsman WG Grace. It would take "expenses" roughly double what the highest paid player would get for a game. But as England's top batsman, he knew he could add thousands to the crowd.
At some point in 1881, the gamblers got fed up with this shitty amateurism and some went on strike. The strike did not last and the players returned to work, but the point had been made and gradually over the years the division between gentlemen and players disappeared. Today no amateurs play for county or national teams.
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