Shane Warne successful in getting under Alastair Cook’s skin

By Madhu Kshirsagar

20/06/2014

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Alastair Cook has taken umbrage at Shane Warne’s criticism of his captaincy.  The latter has criticised Cook’s captaincy for the entire time Cookhe has been the captain; all through the past two years.

Most of Warne’s criticism is justified whilst some are just rubbing salt into the wound. Warne started taking digs at Cook when England played well under English conditions to beat the Australians 3-0 in 2013.

Despite England winning handsomely early on under Cook, Warne has been relentless in belittling the Englishman’s captaincy. That was around the time when Cook’s star as a batsman started fading.  He did not contribute greatly with the bat in that series, measured by his own hitherto standard. He did appear to stumble through his role as captain albeit with criticism from several quarters; none more vociferous than Mr. Warne.

His subsequent tour of Australia was a disaster and the less said about the English team’s performance and Cook’s own performance the better.  And to top it off he was again roundly criticised by the former Australian leg-spinner for his “unimaginative and boring” captaincy.

Shane Warne is the quintessential Aussie if ever there was one.  He will dish out criticisms – fair or unfair – if it suits him.  The only thing he hates more than curry is the English cricket side; so his bias is clear. He will use every trick in the book, and some not in the book, to destabilise the England cricket team.

Warne is a person who sees most things as black and white. You are either his friend or his foe. Many Australian cricketers, including Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh, have found him a handful and steered clear of him, having had to face his rants at various times in their lives.

Warne is a complex character, and is not very diplomatic. He makes friends as easily as making enemies. For this reason he was not considered captaincy material during his playing days. He rubbed too many people the wrong way and there were too many transgressions as a cricketer and as a person – too many to list here, but I am sure everyone is well aware of those. To have a cricketing brain is one thing, but to antagonize team mates and also walk a fine line on morality is quite a different thing altogether.

Alastair Cook comes across as a decent bloke – a fantastic opening batsman who is currently going through a bad patch. He may not have a great cricketing brain like Warne, but he is definitely a decent and steady captain. Warne was essentially a gambler during his playing days. The 29-year-old English captain has to be more enterprising in his approach rather than adopting some of Warne’s gambling style which comes across abundantly in his commentary and his ideas. International captains have to be more calculating, strategic and diplomatic.

Forget the fact that Warne’s voice is the loudest in pronouncing Cook’s captaincy as atrocious. Many decent cricket pundits think the same and supporters can also realise it. No doubt Warne is abrasive in his criticisms, but the fact remains that Cook has not displayed great imagination in commanding his troops. Moreover, his bad patch is making his captaincy worse.

But Warne seems to have definitely gotten under Cook’s skin, and that is not a good sign for Cook since the Australlian has achieved his objective!

Cook has to take the criticisms sportingly and in the right spirit and try to benefit from them rather than letting them get under his skin. It can be done. He needs to seek a good friend’s counsel.

Let’s face it, it is easy for ex-cricketers to be sensational in the media, but not as easy to battle batting demons and also captain an average team in an exceptional way.

Mankading – Sri Lankans walking a fine line

By Madhu Kshirsagar

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Senanayaka picture

 Above: Sachithra Senanayake and Jos Buttler

 

Ashwin picture

 Above: Ravichandran Ashwin and Lahiru Thirimanne

The above pictures say a thousand words.

There’s been much said and written in the last few days on this subject: some hysterical, some technical, and some very emotional. I do not want to harp too much on the fairness or otherwise of ‘Mankading’ in cricket and repeat ground on what has already been beaten to an emotional death.

So, let us look at the above two pictures critically and without emotion.

The first one shows Sachithra Senanayake running out Jos Buttler in the ongoing Sri Lanka’s tour of England. Here, Buttler’s bat up until the very point of the actual delivery was, in reality, inside the crease. He has clearly assumed that the delivery will be completed, taken his eye off the bowler, and drew the bat closer to his legs just as Senanayake stops to remove the bail. It is a micro-split second between the time his bat slips out of the crease and the removing of the bail.

Is Senanayake justified in stopping at the very last split second of the delivery, pausing to ensure that the non-striker’s bat slips out of the crease and then run him out? This to me appears as setting a scene for a desired outcome. In other words, a set-up. Framed!

Compare this to the next picture: Ravichandran Ashwin’s run out of Lahiru Thirimanne at exactly the same point in the delivery action, in the year 2012. It can be clearly seen that Thirimanne was way out of his crease and practically walking further away. Is Ashwin not within his rights at that point to run him out?

Forget rules, I will come to that in a minute. Which situation do you think called for a justified ‘mankading’?

Anyway, when Ashwin ‘mankaded’ Thirimanne, senior Indian cricketers and captain Virender Sehwag quickly stepped in and saved the situation by magnanimously withdrawing their appeal; eventually, it adversely affected India’s chances in the game.

That did not happen in the case of Senanayake, and the Lankans, despite being the recipient of the magnanimity in an earlier occasion, did not respond to save the situation and show a generosity of spirit. What was staggering was the fact that none of Sri Lanka’s senior cricketers like Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardene intervened to drive some sense into the situation.

Is Mankading justified at all, under any circumstance?

Correct me if I am wrong, but I can’t think of any other situation where a fielding side can claim a wicket when the ball is not in play. A ball until the time it has been delivered is a dead ball, i.e., if the bowler does not deliver the ball for any reason after running to the crease, it is called a dead ball. Then how can a dead ball be used to take a wicket?

I understand that, by taking several paces out of the crease, a runner is taking unfair advantage.  That doesn’t mean it is up to the bowler to contrive a situation, as, in my opinion, that is what happened with the Senanayake incident, to claim a wicket for his side.

Yes, the ICC rule book clearly gives this right to the bowler, but that does not make it correct or logical.  It can be manipulated to a certain extent by the bowler, as I have proven in the above pictures: Senanayake’s case is debatable and, in my view, stretching a fine line in this instance. But ‘mankading’ was fully justified in the case of Ashwin.

A good rule should not allow scope for interpretation to suit different situations and be applicable to devastating effect without justification.

Therefore, I would much prefer that the Mankading rule is re-written in the ICC rule book to give power and responsibility to the umpire and not to the bowler.  The straight umpire is the only person capable of determining whether the non-striker is leaving the crease before the delivery action is completed. He should then go through a process of warning the non-striker and ultimately give him out if he transgresses repeatedly.

Case solved. Let’s move forward.