GAME PLAN: Cricket: Spit, polish and sweet nothings

Jaideep Ghosh


Thank goodness for the television boys! Just when the Australia-South Africa series was threatening to become a boring no-contest, they focussed on old Faf du Plessis and it was party time once again!

Australia are down and out, absolutely decimated, both at Perth and then across the continent in Hobart.

So as Adelaide came, after a seemingly unending wait, the Aussies only had records to play for.
But then Du Plessis was found involved in a serious no-no on the cricket field – to have his sweet and spit it too.

In official terms, he was using sugar-laden saliva to lubricate the cricket ball, which enables the thing to do strange things when bowled seam-up.
So essentially, he was cheating.

You’ll note that we aren’t saying allegedly cheated. The reason is simple – the International Cricket Council has found him guilty of the offence.

But that did not really go down well with the South Africans. There were protests galore, not least from the normally said and calm Hashim Amla.

That really was surprising. Amla is not normally known for shooting off his mouth, but he was quite voluble in his defence of skipper Du Plessis. And it was not even like Amla’s place was under any threat!

That, and Du Plessis’ own denial of any wrongdoing, resulted in a rather light sentence. The South African captain lost 100% of the match fees and that was that.

Australia wouldn’t be pleased that no blood was drawn. Not the best of losers in the best of times, they would hardly be over the moon as no blood was drawn.

Hashim-Amla-South-Africa-CricketA part of the South African defence was providing the authorities with video footage of the match between India and England at Vizag.

Here, the Indian captain, Virat Kohli was allegedly polishing the ball with spit even as he chewed on gum (yes, this time it is allegedly, since no action has been taken).

Funny how the Proteas got hold of the Vizag footage. I guess the involvement of a South African production team involved in this telecast is just a coincidence.

So poor Kohli was castigated for something he chewed. In a country where people are chewing and spitting with impunity! Very unfair.

What is it with captains anyway? Here we have Kohli under the microscope. Then we have Du Plessis, who lost his pocket money.

But the lowest rung was achieved by Misbah-ul Haq.

The Pakistan skipper has received a one-Test ban for his slow over-rate in the first Test with New Zealand.

And while SA and India skippers won, which I guess led to all the whining from the losing parties, Pakistan lost. So it was quite a package for Misbah.

BCCILodha-BCCI tangle: Here is one saga that doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.
As the deadline approaches the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to accede to the demands of the Supreme Court demand that all the recommendations of the Justice Lodha Committee be met.

But the committee wasn’t particularly bothered with the deadline of December 3, and stressed that the entire BCCI hierarchy be sacked and the former Home Secretary, G.K. Pillai, be put in control of affairs, especially the contracts, including the telecast del for the Indian Premier League.
But that doesn’t really mean things will settle down. The BCCI is, if nothing else, an unafraid organisation. They don’t scare easily and they always hold one major trump card.

As you would recall, the Supreme Court had held up the BCCI’s finances shortly before the New Zealand series, as well as shortly before the England series.

All the BCCI had to do was to smartly leak some letters like the one they sent to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), asking them to foot their own bills when in India.

Result? The spectre of national embarrassment and instantly the funds are released.

The Lodha Committee has righteousness on its side. But the BCCI has decades of experience of fighting in the trenches, against seemingly extreme odds.

The BCCI has made it amply clear that the Lodha Committee’s recommendations cannot be met, especially the ‘one state, one vote’ clause, which Maharashtra, led by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has already protested against rather vehemently.

Two states have major concerns about this clause – Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Maharashtra is home to the MCA and Maharashtra Cricket Association. Plus, there is the Vidarbha Cricket Association. Then we have the Cricket Club of India!

Gujarat had Baroda, Saurashtra and Baroda.

So you can see where the consternation comes from.

So much so that there were suggestions that contempt proceedings be initiated against MCA. While nothing has been done so far, this is another assault from a different angle.

This essentially means that, come December 3, there will be more drama and uncertainty.
But that’s cricket for you. Lots of drama, on and off the field.