Stand at the crease or walk off the ground: The Cheteshwar Pujara controversy
In the recently concluded Ranji Trophy semifinal between Saurashtra and Karnataka, emerged a very debatable controversy - Stand at the crease or Walk off the ground.
Coincidently, twice in the very same game, the very same player edged the ball behind the stumps and was caught cleanly by the wicketkeeper. Unfortunately for Karnataka, on both the occasions, the umpire got it completely wrong and adjudged the batsman ‘not out’.
The batsman ‘Cheteshwar Pujara’ very gracefully accepted the umpire’s decision and decided not to walk off the ground. Then, to add insult to injury, not only, he scored an unbeaten 49th first-class century but also led Saurashtra successfully to another Ranji Trophy final.
Consequently, Pujara’s decision to stay on the crease came under a lot of criticism by many. The very same player, who was showered with love and respect, and even compared with the legend ‘Rahul Dravid’ after his recent series of superlative performances in test matches against Australia at their own soil, was very casually tagged as a ‘cheat’ after the entire episode.
Many believe that a ‘gentleman’s game’ should be played with the utmost integrity and therefore when a batsman is aware of the fact that he has edged the ball, he should just simply walk irrespective of the umpire’s decision. Considering the very same principle, the bowling team should also then demand to reverse the umpire’s decision, when the batsman is adjudged ‘out’ mistakenly.
However, it does not happen that way. The bowling team celebrates their wicket and swiftly moves on with the game. Why then, the integrity of the bowling team not questioned? Why then, the bowling team is not criticized for not standing against the ‘wrong’ decision? So, why is it expected only from a batsman to walk, when the umpiring decision is against the bowling team? The ‘Integrity’ cannot be shown only by the batsman!
Yes! Without a doubt, it exhibits an impeccable sportsmanship spirit, when a batsman walks towards the pavilion without even waiting for umpire’s decision. At the same time, when he does not, his integrity should not be questioned. In fact, a batsman has every right to stay on the crease and wait for the umpire’s decision.
After all, it’s the umpire’s job to adjudicate. A batsman should not be criticized for poor umpiring decision. A batsman's sole responsibility is to come on the field and score runs for the team. He should not be made accountable for making decisions on the field regarding his own dismissal, interestingly, not to save him against the wrong umpiring decision but only to declare himself out - very bizarre!
Let’s acknowledge the fact that every now and then, the game of cricket will experience poor umpiring decisions. We should accept the errors as a part and parcel of the game and move on with it. We should not expect the players to take the ‘correct umpiring decision’ on the cricket field and then, judge their integrity based on it! Everyone has a job to do and they should only focus on delivering excellence in their respective area of responsibility for a great game of cricket!