That it should be a former India player, somebody whose international debut dates back to 1998, who should be in the forefront of antics and finger-wagging, expletive rants brought the 38-time champions no credit whatsoever. Ajit Agarkar has played enough cricket – international and domestic – to know where the thin line between aggression and acceptable behaviour lies. Or, at least, that’s what one would assume.
The experienced paceman has clearly still not got over his dismissal of the first innings when he wandered out of his crease shadow-practising a stroke and was run out by a combination of opportunism and alacrity from CM Gautam.
His immediate protests after having been adjudged out invited a 50 percent fine of his match fee by match referee S Ramesh, but that has clearly been no deterrent.
On Thursday, Agarkar managed just four with the bat, smartly caught by Robin Uthappa at short cover off A Mithun. Already having exchanged words with Gautam and Sunil Joshi upon his arrival, Agarkar was incensed when Uthappa banged the ball on to the turf. It is possible that Uthappa might have said something to Agarkar as the batsman was walking away and the latter was well within his rights to bring that to the attention of the umpires, but the manner in which he did that left a lot to be desired, taking the gloss off a wonderful display of hostile bowling. As he was walking past Sanjay Hazare, Agarkar repeatedly wagged his right forefinger at the umpire, determined to make his point.
Hazare merely acknowledged Agarkar’s act, happy to be at the receiving end of the finger-wagging that made whatever the batsman told the umpire appear a lot worse than what might actually have been said.
“Somebody spoke something and he brought it to the notice of the umpire. He didn’t say a single word,” Mumbai coach Praveen Amre said later, though television pictures suggested otherwise. The drama didn’t end there. When Uthappa dropped down to the middle-order, he was welcomed by good-natured chatter from the slips, but when he fell shortly afterwards, caught behind off Agarkar, the entire Mumbai team congregated at the far end of the ground and yelled out a chant that can at best be called unprintable.
Umpires Hazare and Amiesh Saheba, who had spoken to Uthappa earlier on when Agarkar came out to bat, had a word with Wasim Jaffer after their send-off to the Karnataka captain.
Surprisingly, neither the two umpires nor match referee Ramesh deemed it fit to conduct a disciplinary hearing at the end of the day’s play. Perhaps, had the match referee been firmer in dealing with Agarkar’s remonstration on day one, things wouldn’t have degenerated to such an extent. Then again, if the BCCI overturns bans like the one imposed on Dinesh Kaarthick by Sanjay Patil earlier in the season on technical grounds, what kind of message are they sending to the refs? Just as what kind of message are senior cricketers sending their less experienced colleagues, and kids watching?
DH News Service