Cricket is often referred to as the gentleman’s game. A number of role models, from Sir Don Bradman to Sachin Tendulkar have done their bit to uphold the values over the years.
On the other hand, like everything else in life, the image of cricket too has been tarnished owing to numerous controversies, from bodyline to ball-tampering, and the worst of all, match-fixing.
Cheating is something that has no place in the game. But, where there are humans, there are bound to be mistakes, and the greed to gain that little unfair advantage often exists.
Claiming an unclean catch is one of the issues that has marred cricket for many years. Despite knowing that they have dropped a catch, players still claim it. In earlier years, fielders could get away in the absence of proper technology. But, players these days get found out easily for unfair play, and get penalised as well.
In his feature, we take a look at five instances when catches that were clearly not taken were claimed by fielders.
#5 Amy Jones
One of the most recent instances of a grassed catch being claimed came in the first T20I of a Tri-series event played between Indian Women and England Women at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
In the 2nd over of India’s chase of 148, opener Smriti Mandhana nicked the first ball from Katherine Brunt behind the wicket, and Amy Jones dived to her left to take the ‘catch’. Jones started celebrating in the usual fashion, and Mandhana too started walking.
However, the replays clearly showed that the ball had popped out of her gloves. The third umpire chipped in to correct the mistake, and Mandhana was called back to the crease. The Indian opener’s stint did not last long, as she was soon dismissed for 15. India went on the win the match courtesy Harmanpreet Kaur’s 42.
Jones, meanwhile, was roasted on social media, with many referring to her as a ‘cheat’. The wicket-keeper later took to Twitter to apologise, and share her side of the story.
"The right decision was made. I thought it was clear to everyone that the ball came out at the end of my roll and I wasn't trying to hide that. In the moment it felt like I had control of the ball for long enough. From replays it's clear that I didn't, I'm sorry for my mistake," she explained.
#4 Rashid Latif
In September 2003, then Pakistan captain Rashid Latif was banned for five ODIs after claiming a dropped catch during the Bangladesh and Pakistan in Multan. It was a pulsating encounter, which the hosts won by one wicket on the back of a splendid fourth innings hundred by Inzamam-ul-Haq.
In the 28th over of Bangladesh’s second innings, Alok Kapali edged Yasir Ali behind the wickets. The unsuspecting batsman walked back, but TV replays showed Latif rolling over and picking up the ball from the ground.
At a press conference, while announcing the ban, match referee Mike Procter revealed, “That was all in evidence for everybody to see. He (Latif) is saying that maybe he held the ball long enough to constitute a catch. I asked three umpires present and their opinion on what they saw on TV. I didn’t give my opinion, but Bangladesh’s opinion and listened to the arguments. I thought it over it at length because I had to take a decision one way or the other.”
13 years after the incident, Latif admitted to ESPNcricinfo that he cheated, but added that he did not feel he had done anything wrong as it was for the country.
“You do everything for your country. I did realise immediately that the ball rolled out of my hand and it touched the ground. I conveyed that to my senior players. I gave an option to recall the batsman but it was decided that we will let him go. I have no regrets. It’s a war and we both were playing cricket and I never surrender, so I had to do what was needed. Call it cheating but I have no regret at all,” Latif stated.
#3 Ahmed Shehzad
Another Pakistani finds his name in the controversial list. During the fourth ODI of the 2015 series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Ahmed Shehzad dived forward at deep square leg to take the ‘catch’ of Lahiru Thirimanne.
Thirimanne had clearly seen the ball slip out of Shehzad's hand and roll on the ground. He thus completed a single and held his ground, knowing he was not out.
Having watched the ball slip out of Shehzad's grasp and roll along the field and even bobble up to strike Shehzad's chin, Thirimanne calmly completed the single and acted like it was any other run. Before referring the catch to the third umpire, the on-field officials gave the soft signal of not out. The TV umpire also backed the on-field umpire’s decision. Rather strangely, despite the obvious evidence, Shehzad started complaining about the decision, gesturing that he had taken the ball cleanly.
Not learning from his mistake, Shehzad asked for a review after dropping another catch during a Pakistan Cup match between Federal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in April 2019. Fielding at deep mid-wicket, Shehzad dropped a sitter as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa needed three runs off the last four balls. Shockingly, the fielder asked for a third umpire's decision even after replays proved the catch was dropped.
#2 Denesh Ramdin
In June 2013, West Indies wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin was charged of breaching ICC Code of Conduct for claiming a catch of Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq during the Champions Trophy encounter at The Oval.
The incident took place during the ninth over of the Pakistan innings, when Misbah bottom-edged a delivery from Kemar Roach to Ramdin. The wicket-keeper caught the ball initially, but lost control as he fell forward. The ball slipped out of Ramdin’s gloves on to the grass.
Misbah was given out by Australian umpire Steve Davis, but the decision was referred to third umpire Tony Hill as leg-umpire Nigel Llong had spotted what had transpired. The Pakistan captain, who was on 0, when the incident occurred, went on to make a hard-fought 96 not out.
Pakistan went on to lose the contest by two wickets, and Misbah slammed Ramdin after the game.
“I don't think I would be happy if my wicketkeeper did that. If you don't know if it is (a catch) then fine, but if you know it's not a catch you should not claim it because it's not in the spirit of the game," he had commented.
Ramdin was banned for two ODIs over the incident.
#1 Steve Waugh
You’ll be surprised to learn that former Australian captain Steve Waugh also finds his name on the list. During the Benson & Hedges encounter against India in January 1986 at the MCG. Waugh, standing at point, claimed a catch of Kris Srikkanth he had clearly dropped.
The aggressive Indian opener hit the ball uppishly in his trademark style. The ball burst through Waugh’s fingers. He juggled it, and tried to hold on to it at the second attempt, but clearly failed. The fielder though claimed the catch on rebound.
Srikkanth, who had the perfect view of what had happened refused to walk. The umpires had a discussion and declared the batsman not out even as Australians, including skipper Allan Border, continued to debate over the catch.
India, chasing 162 for victory, eased to victory by eight wickets. In an irony of sorts, Waugh was declared man of the match for his unbeaten 73.