Cricketers to be seen and heard, not obscene and heard!

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2004, 15:14 [IST]
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The latest McGrath outburst at Cairns only underscores that truism about the Aussies. "We are to be obscene and heard". Was it sheer frustration on McGrath's part because he wasn't having a particularly productive day at the office, or some other cause? Atleast no one was called a "black monkey" this time, so I guess that's an improvement on their part.

Should cricket players undergo anger management sessions as part of their training? If that move is approved by the governing body, we may see less temper tantrums and flare ups on the field. This in turn will only benefit the players because they won't lose any of their match fees through fines and at the same time help the International Cricket Council (ICC) in projecting the professionalism that they so earnestly desire.

However, incidents between players and umpires are an altogether different ball game. More often than not, the minor on field incidents that go unpunished eventually result in larger offences. What constitutes proper celebration of a wicket? When does a celebration begin to encroach on the opposition's feelings? Should feelings no longer be an issue and the players hold sway as to how they celebrate?

Match referees need proper education in this aspect so that one group of offenders don't get away scot-free just because it is a part of their "culture" and the other penalised when the same happens because it is not their culture. The "Cricket Culture" needs to be clearly outlined and explained so that there is no room for ambiguity. The Mike Denness incident in South Africa was a clear example of this double standard.

There should be a clear demarcation line between what constitutes "playful banter" as opposed to obviously offensive language. But then not all players are alike either. What one may view as "playful banter" may be construed by another as an affront. For instance, if a bowler is having a great day on the field, he may overlook an off the cuff remark, whereas if he is all stressed out and at the edge of his nerves, he may just retaliate and a playful situation may turn sour.

However, if a certain team has players that are notorious for expletives and racist remarks on the field, then they have to be dealt with differently. And please, we request the politicians to stay out of it instead of condoning their countrymen's errant behaviour as a "very nationalistic thing" to do. This only serves to embolden the offenders. Cricket is a gentleman's game, not one of jerks and the obviously uncouth and unrefined.

Check the players' behaviour at the national level. What is approved at home will naturally be accepted by the player as kosher in the international arena where different ethnic and racial backgrounds will be encountered. Deal with the behavioural issues at the domestic level, just like parents teach their children manners at the domestic (home) level before they release them to the outside world so that they are not social misfits.

Cricket is a game of well-adjusted people who deserve to be seen and heard and not "Obscene And Heard!"

Remember players! You are ambassadors of your respective countries - be it on home turf or on tour. Umpires and match referees should be fair in imparting justice and not have different measuring weights on their scales of justice.

Don't turn cricket into an international battle of brawns and no brains. Keep it the gentleman's game that it is and those who do not want to be gentlemen cannot be outstanding in the field, they belong behind the barricades of the pavilion! Or better yet just stay at home!

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