Vettori, Strauss show the way

In spirit of the game

 
Daniel VettoriUnlike the laws of cricket, the spirit of the game is a grey area, open to interpretation because it is not written down and there are no strict guidelines.
Thrice in three matches involving England in the Champions Trophy, the spirit of the game has been invoked, each one as dramatic as the other.

In England’s opener against Sri Lanka, Angelo Mathews was recalled by Andrew Strauss after he was run out following a collision with bowler Graham Onions, a move that was commended worldwide as extremely gentlemanly.

A couple of days later, Strauss denied his South African counterpart Graeme Smith a runner after the latter cramped up, the England skipper’s contention being that cramping was no injury but a sign of lack of adequate preparation. His decision was backed by the on-field umpires as well as the International Cricket Council.

On Tuesday night at the Wanderers, in a game they had to win to make the semifinals, New Zealand set a wonderful example. After Paul Collingwood had wandered out of his crease at the end of an over, but before ‘over’ had been called by Daryl Harper, Brendon McCullum threw down the bails and appealed for a run out.

Even as the third umpire was poring over the replays, the Kiwis deliberated on the merits of their appeal, after which skipper Daniel Vettori withdrew the appeal. New Zealand were well within their rights to persist with their appeal because Collingwood was so out. That they chose to embrace the spirit of the game with so much revolving around the outcome of the match made Vettori’s decision even more commendable.

Not to mention, of course, the history between Collingwood and New Zealand. At the Oval last year, when Collingwood was leading England, Grant Elliott was run out after a collision with bowler Ryan Sidebottom. England chose to play it by the rules, a fuming Elliott had to leave the crease, and after New Zealand pulled off an unexpected win, no Kiwi came out for the customary post-match handshakes.

“If I hadn’t played with Colly for Delhi, that might have come into play. But I played with him for a couple of months in the IPL and because of that, I don’t think that incident came to mind,” Vettori said on Tuesday night.

“The spirit of the game is in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. Most people within the game want to put that out in front because it is important. Today, it was just an easy decision to say there wasn’t much going on, let’s just get on with it.

There was no intent from Colly to take a run, he just wandered out of his crease.”
Strauss was all praise for his opposite number. “Colly obviously wasn’t going for a run. Probably he was a little bit hasty to leave his crease. I have to applaud Daniel Vettori. It was the right decision but it was a tough decision to make as a captain when your future in the tournament is on the line,” Strauss observed.

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