It wasn’t quite easy watching the proceedings at the ‘Gabba, and it was really a relief that the weather interfered rather more decisively than it tends to in England. It was a pointless game in a pointless one-day series. (It is a relief to remember that this is to be the last tri-series tournament in the annual Australian cricket calendar, at least until the BCCI realises how to make money off it). No, I’m not saying this because I’m an Indian and the Indians didn’t quite cover themselves with glory with their batting performance. Yes, I did watch Brett Lee bowl give yet another great exhibition of fast bowling. No, it’s not because the game ended resultless. But… you know what I mean.
Yet, and trust a die-hard cricket follower (especially on an otherwise eventless Sunday) to find something to talk about even in a game like this…
It was the third over of the Australian innings. Irfan Pathan was bowling to James Hopes. He starts with a dot ball; then bowls a real wide down the leg side, follows up with another good dot ball; and then disappears to the fence for the next three. Then he comes up to bowl the last ball of the over. It was another delivery on the leg stump, and brushed past the batsman’s pads. Hopes attempted to tickle it to fine-leg but missed. The umpire spread his arms wide. Groan. Pathan had to bowl that one again.
But the batsman’s reaction was instructive. Hopes was practising the shot again and berating himself for missing out on what could have been a certain boundary. If the ball was that close to being hit for a boundary, is it fair that it be declared a wide just because the batsman missed it?
I know it’s a tight call with these leg stump wides, but may be they should be treated like lbws? That is, the umpires have to decide whether the ball was really un-hittable rather than just going by the mechanical definition of a ball just going down the leg side? I know the current trend is to take away as much decision-making as possible from the on-field umpires but surely there are some things they can decide on? And only they can decide on?