• Friday, Sep 30, 2022
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OP-ED: Nothing justifies kicking the stumps

  • Published at 07:29 pm June 18th, 2021
Mohammedan captain Shakib al Hasan argues with the umpire during their DPL match against Abahani in Mirpur Friday

In a civilized game, the athletes must respect the rules and norms

Well, at the end of the day, isn’t a sportsman/woman an entertainer for his/her audience? You don’t believe it, right? You may not, but yes, to my mind, that’s a fact. 

When I watch a game of football, cricket, basketball, or any kind of athletics, I sit back and wow at their skills. 

That’s exactly what the ancients did after their day’s work. While they watched boxing, wrestling, gladiators’ fights-to-death etc, we watch the modern forms that are more humane.

We have to remember that games and sports were very cruel forms of entertainment in the past. Then, there was an evolution over the centuries. 

The skull-cracking skills in the arena graduated to modern forms of competitions. Scores on the board. Remember boxing? One person hitting another is still a game!

It was all about winning and losing. Someone had to win and someone had to lose. Rejoicing and disheartening. Laughing and giggling. Relaxing, excitement, enjoyment, and swearing. Yes, you got it right. That guy, that gal in the ring was the subject of our entertainment.

For some of us, being in the arena was itself an entertainment. We played and were happy about it. We wanted to entertain ourselves by entertaining others. And in such ways, we became icons and examples for others. The audience admired us, made idols of us. Our success was theirs. They prayed for our victory and shed tears when we lost.

This was how we felt like humans when we went in the arena or in the field. Humans accompany follies in their psyche. They err. So did we -- generation after generation.

Then, we again evolved as well as graduated from the sense of anger to the feeling of acceptance. We learned to accept our defeats in the playfield. We applied some logic in it and thought that losing a game wasn’t the end of life. There would be another chance, another opportunity to win.

We learned to respect the judges, the referees, the umpires -- anyone who provides decisions on fouls on the court, ground, field, or the arena. We developed a code of conduct that also influenced the lives of the people.

Dear readers: I have been blabbering about anthropological anecdotes in order to prepare a ground to talk about a recent game of cricket in which an umpire gave a decision on a bowler’s leg-before-wicket appeal, which was unacceptable to the bowler and he, in an intense reflex of anger, kicked the wickets. 

And then after a while, another umpire announced the end of the game owing to bad weather, the same player uprooted the wickets and banged them on the ground.

First, the incident created a wide furore among many. To them, the kick was an uncivilized act, an expression that went against the spirit of sportsmanship. However, for many others, the kick was justified, as the cricketer was protesting against a partisan and wrong decision of the umpire.

Oops! What an ancient Grecian thought! Someone has killed my brother and that’s exactly the reason I have to avenge the death by killing the killer.

Well that’s not how we think in this age of prudence, if I may term it. To my mind, the kick was not justified. Nothing can justify the kick on the stumps in a game of cricket. Period.

I agree that he couldn’t keep his calm in the face of an alleged “misconduct” by the umpire. But no matter how aggrieved and enraged you become after a wrong decision, you cannot show your anger that is tantamount to another misconduct. The game of cricket is not a bout of wrestling in which the wrestlers sometimes hit the referee.

Many members of the audience have welcomed the kick, and alleged that a long history of misconduct by the umpires has led to the kick, and the kick was a symbol of protest against the unacceptable actions that keep happening in Bangladesh cricket.

Not acceptable. The kick was a symbol of aggressiveness that has no place in a game of cricket. If there was a history of misconduct on the part of the umpires or the cricket board, there were various other means to protest against them.    

If my profession is to play cricket, the pitch is my temple and the wickets are its symbol. When I kick the wickets, I kick my own sanctity. And when I am the best of the best, I must have the forbearance to accept the judge’s verdict. 

Well, you have all the right to reject the verdict and there are ways to appeal against it in many legal ways. But the kick cannot be your appeal.

Yes, the outfield is a sacred arena unlike a savage battlefield. Now, we have a code of conduct to abide by. National cricket league is not a game among the teenagers’ neighbourhood teams, and we are not teenagers with a sudden surge of adult hormones.

We believe in values, in leadership, in sportsmanship. We protest, but don’t get into fistfights. We have civilized norms to follow and uphold.

You may define the game of cricket in many ways. Collective discipline, national branding, competitiveness – many. But at the end of the day, the game is a form of entertainment, and we are civilized entertainers. Kindly apply your senses before you kick next time. 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller and a communications professional. His other works are available on ekramkabir.com.

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