What is the difference between a normal person and a hero? Some say it is the skill to do exceedingly well in your field, while a few others might agree that it is the ability to inspire others to do well. Both points stand correct in their own place, but in addition to these, a hero is also someone who does his job with complete honesty. This holds for the game of cricket as well.
While it is crucial for players to excel performance-wise, it is equally important to stick to the spirit of the game to be recognised as a true role model. There have been quite a few instances in the cricketing world where some individuals valued the spirit of cricket more than the impact their decisions would have on the state of the match. Here we take a look back at ten such memorable instances:
1. Gilchrist walks despite being given not out
Very few matches in cricket are of more significance than a World Cup semi-final, and Adam Gilchrist chose the perfect occasion to display the spirit of cricket in the best possible manner. As Australia batted first, Gilchrist got off to a usual flyer and raced to 22 from just 20 balls. Aravinda de Silva was brought into the attack to get the breakthrough for Sri Lanka, and he succeeded in inducing the edge of the wicket-keeper batsman’s bat.
The ball deflected on to the pad and popped up for Sangakkara to take an easy catch. However, umpire Rudi Koertzen turned a deaf ear to the appeal by the Sri Lankans. To everyone’s surprise, Adam Gilchrist was spotted walking away as he felt he had hit the ball. The Aussie won a lot of praise for taking the monumental decision of walking despite being given not out even as Australia eased into the final and eventually became champions again.
2. Sachin Tendulkar walks in the 2011 World Cup
Sachin Tendulkar is one of the greatest role models that the game of cricket has ever seen. Apart from being a fantastic batsman, he was also someone who upheld the spirit of the game throughout his career. A proof of this was witnessed during India’s successful 2011 World Cup campaign in a match against the West Indies. Sachin had been in fine form with the bat, and this was another opportunity for him to get some more runs under his belt.
A delivery from West Indies pacer Ravi Rampaul hit his glove and carried through to the keeper. The umpire was stuck in two minds, but the great man himself resolved his predicament as he decided to walk. This was one of the several instances in Sachin’s career when he walked before the umpires took their decision.
3. MS Dhoni calls Ian Bell back
India’s former Test skipper MS Dhoni transformed what could have been a grey chapter in the India-England cricketing rivalry into one of its most memorable moments. In the 2nd Test of the 2011 series, Ian Bell walked out of his crease while on 137 without noticing that the ball was still in play and not dead. An Indian fielder was quick to spot this and quickly removed the bails.
The Indians appealed and Bell was adjudged run out as the umpires called for tea. During the break, the England team management approached Dhoni and requested him to review the dismissal and withdraw the appeal. The Indian skipper graciously obliged and Bell was seen walking out to bat after the interval much to the surprise of the crowd, who gave Dhoni and his men a warm applause. This was one of the best examples of the spirit of cricket being displayed by an opposition captain.
4. Gundappa Viswanath persuades the umpire not to give Bob Taylor out
Back in the 1979-80 India-England Test series, another great Indian named Gundappa Viswanath took the spirit of the game to a whole new level. England’s wicket-keeper batsman Bob Taylor was batting at 43 when an appeal for caught behind off the bowling of Kapil Dev was upheld by the umpire. The batsman showed his resentment at the decision and hesitated to leave the crease.
Seeing the situation, then Indian skipper Viswanath walked up to Taylor and asked him whether he had nicked the ball, something that the latter denied. This prompted the legendary Indian batsman to persuade the umpire to reverse his decision and Bob Taylor was allowed to play on. Gundappa Viswanath’s gesture earned him great respect from all quarters.
5. Andrew Strauss calls Angelo Matthews back
Former England captain Andrew Strauss always led his team by example, and this is precisely what happened in the 2009 Champions Trophy played in South Africa. During a group encounter between England and Sri Lanka, Lankan batsman Angelo Matthews was scampering across for a run when English seamer Graham Onions collided with him. Wicket-keeper Matt Prior took advantage of the situation and whipped off the bails running out Matthews.
The batsman expressed his displeasure at first but slowly started to make a move towards the pavilion. Strauss walked up to the umpires and after a discussion with them asked for Angelo to be called back, and they obliged. The Englishman received a lot of admiration for taking this decision.
6. Daniel Vettori's award-winning gesture
Kiwi spinner Daniel Vettori’s amazing gesture against Zimbabwe in a Test match played in the year 2011 won him the coveted ICC Spirit of Cricket Award in 2012. While bowling to Zimbabwean batsman Regis Chakabva, Vettori accidentally collided with non-striker Malcolm Waller which avoided him from running across to the striker’s end.
However, Chakabva was already halfway down the pitch as the New Zealand keeper collected the throw and ran out the batsman. This is when the legendary left-arm spinner intervened and withdrew the appeal as he had obstructed Waller from taking the run.
Apart from the award, Vettori also drew a tremendous amount of respect in the cricketing fraternity.
7. Marvan Atapattu asks for Symonds to be called back
In an ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka in the year 2004, Andrew Symonds attempted a pull shot off Dharmasena and inside-edged the ball onto his pads. The bowler and keeper went up in a convincing appeal, and the umpire Peter Manuel raised his finger in an instant. The Aussie batsman displayed some shock at the decision but quickly began the walk back towards the pavilion.
The Sri Lankans started to celebrate the wicket. However, their captain Marvan Atapattu was sure that the ball had hit the bat first. The umpire asked for the opinion of his partner Billy Bowden, who in turn spoke to Atapattu. The Sri Lanka skipper expressed the will to call back Symonds to bat again, and the umpires overturned their decision.
8. Courtney Walsh refuses to 'Mankad'
‘Mankading’ is considered to be one of the most unsportsmanlike forms of dismissing a batsman as it involves a bowler stopping in his run-up to run out a non-striker who has backed up too far. In the 1987 World Cup, West Indies great Courtney Walsh was bowling to Abdul Qadir of Pakistan in one of the matches and the big man suddenly stopped at the point of the delivery.
Many thought that he would run out the non-striker Saleem Jaffar who had almost reached the striker’s end as it was the last ball and Pakistan needed just two, but all Walsh did was to return to his bowling mark to re-bowl the delivery. Pakistan went on to win the match off the next ball that Courtney bowled but the Caribbean great won hearts for his gesture.
9. Imran Khan asks umpire to overturn his decision
The Pakistani great Imran Khan’s sympathy towards Kris Srikkanth after the latter was wrongly given out lbw is one of the greatest examples of the spirit of cricket being displayed in an Indo-Pak encounter. This happened during an ODI at Lahore in 1989 when Srikkanth was adjudged lbw to a delivery by Waqar Younis.
The batsman was convinced that he was not out and walked away in a disgruntled manner. But Imran Khan asked him to return to the crease as he asked the umpires to change their decision. Unfortunately for Srikkanth though, he got out caught behind off the very next ball, but the entire cricketing world was all praise for the Pakistani master.
10. Grant Elliot consoles Dale Steyn at the 2015 World Cup
At times, the spirit of cricket is also about putting your hand forward in friendship after a gruelling battle on the field. A great example of this was displayed in the 2015 edition of the ICC World Cup by New Zealand batsman Grant Elliot. New Zealand’s hero from their epic semi-final clash against South Africa hit the winning runs off the Proteas ace, Dale Steyn, as he broke their dream of making it final once again.
While the pacer went down in disbelief at what had transpired, Elliot walked up to Steyn and offered his hand to help him get up. It was a moment of sportsmanship that gave goosebumps to many.