‘It’s just not cricket’
It’s a popular refrain in reference to something unfair or having some kind of injustice, purportedly referencing the alleged gentlemanly origins of the contest between leather and willow. For the devoted few who watched Day 4 of the Third Test between Australia and Sri Lanka, they witnessed a moment that has caused many to scream this famous refrain.
For those of you who are reading this unaware of the controversy, as Sri Lanka continued to build on their lead, a Nathan Lyon delivery turned past the outside edge of a defensive Dimuth Karunaratne’s bat and into the waiting gloves of Australian wicket-keeper Peter Nevill.
As the attention of most turned to the next ball an opportunistic Nevill, spotting the opening batsman lifting his foot, deftly removed the bails.
The square leg umpire, like most on the field was unaware of what had happened when Nevill appealed to him and sent it to the third umpire to decide. Upon review the third umpire was able to see what only Nevill had known previously, Karunaratne was out, stumped.
Before wading through the outcry that followed, take a look at the stumping here and make up your own mind.
In my mind the only person with a reason to complain about the wicket-keeper’s handy work is Mitchell Stark. Nevill’s stumping preventing the paceman from claiming Karunaratne for the sixth time in six innings this series.
But there were plenty who have made their outrage known. Social media lit up with questions as to whether the action was within the ‘spirit of the game’. Commentators who initially damned Karunaratne’s game awareness later questioned whether a dead ball should have been called.
Former Australian Fast Bowler Rodney Hogg was the most damning critic stating he wasn’t “interested in people who are sneaky.”[ed note: less worried about racist jokes however]
He continued “Hovering, that’s what I don’t like, hover is no good it’s being sneaky. I reckon it was a dead ball in Nevill’s hands – this is the sort of stuff that happens in the parks, it doesn’t happen in Test Cricket.”
Traditionally partisan Australian’s appear to be split on the issue with most straw polls on the internet showing close to 50-50 results.
Amongst the maelstrom on social media Nevill received some support from a couple of Test greats:
The criticism itself didn’t seem to take in the fact that the man himself did not appear to question the decision in anyway. Obviously disappointed to be dismissed, he displayed neither any consternation or ill will to the Australian’s once his dismissal had been confirmed.
The subject of the criticism, Peter Nevill, appeared blase when pressed on the matter at the end of the days play. “I don’t think it is contrary to the spirit of cricket, if you don’t want to get stumped stay in your crease”.
He makes a fair point, an eleven year old wouldn’t make the mistake Karunaratne made, knowing that it is the batsman’s responsibility to protect his wicket. Why should a ‘spirit of cricket’, which means something different to every person, protect a batsman at the highest level when they make an elementary mistake?