It took 44 years for England, the country that gave the game of cricket to the world at large, after the Cricket World Cup began in 1975, to win the title albeit under circumstances that have left a bad taste in the mouth to most. Being a cricketing bridesmaid for such a long period of [...]


CWC 2019 – A Pyrrhic victory gained by a cosmopolitan England side


It took 44 years for England, the country that gave the game of cricket to the world at large, after the Cricket World Cup began in 1975, to win the title albeit under circumstances that have left a bad taste in the mouth to most. Being a cricketing bridesmaid for such a long period of time would not have been an easy ‘bat’ to swallow, hence a lot of confetti was seen being strewn over many parts of England when the celebrations began with their Prime Minister also joining in – and which will continue for quite some time more.

In order to clinch the Cup at last, the English cricketing authorities seemed to have pulled out all the stops. Possibly not being satisfied with their own natives, the so-called England squad of 15 members resulted in not less than 7 of them not being born in England. As our own statistical-minded Chairman of Selectors would have stated it is almost 50% of the squad. (More of it later.) Beginning with the skipper, Ireland-born Eoin Morgan, there were two Pakistani born players, namely Adel Rashid and Moeen Ali, two South African born players in Jason Roy and Tom Curran and finally West Indian born Jofra Archer.

Anyway as the saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention” and the egg-and-bacon tie-wearing members of the Marylebone Cricket Club – ‘a private club with a public function’ they prefer to be known as – were pretty pleased. So, statistically, a cosmopolitan England team beat the never-say-die New Zealanders. Most knowledgeable and experienced former players from Sir Garfield Sobers to our own Arjuna Ranatunga and others who have been born and bred in this once great game thought the two sides should have been declared joint winners once the game ended on level terms. Sadly, the New Zealanders went home empty-handed but the sympathies of most cricket fans the world over are with them. Simultaneously, the reputation of the law/rule-makers of the MCC will remain in the doldrums.

To begin with, the final match was a dazzler with the scores level, though New Zealand lost two wickets less. Now the fun and games began. According to the current rules (not Laws) promulgated by the mandarins (in the event of a tie) one over must be played to decide the winner. So respective teams send the ‘Pol Adiyas’ and hope for the best. Even street urchins in short pants (including the writer I admit) used to play under the same rules when for example the restriction of time or level scores prevail! If that too ends in a tie we simply go home and everybody is happy! The next ICC rule makes one’s head spin! Namely, the winner is decided on which side had scored more boundaries! Disgusting is the only word to describe how a once-noble game of cricket is being treated by the institution responsible for the Laws of Cricket – though these are rules. Surely from a cricketing point of view if one side scores the same total while losing a lesser number of wickets the sensible verdict should be for the latter side to be declared the winner. After all they achieved the same target with less effort. Not for the officious bureaucrats of the MCC. They want to hold their noses with their hand behind their head. No wonder they invite an international cricketer to ring the bell to start a Test match! In every level of cricket in all countries, the umpires begin proceedings by strolling out to the field without any bells being rung, the fielding side then walks out to begin the game followed by the opening batsmen of the opposition.

Now about Sri Lanka’s performance at the same tournament: beating England in a low-scoring game (by 20 runs) was a great achievement. In a previous World Cup game in 1996, didn’t the puny Kenyans beat the mighty West Indians by 73 runs? Not a single West Indian batsman (including Brian Lara) could reach 20 runs! Again in 1983 didn’t the unsung Indians topple the great West Indians side captained by Clive Lloyd and prevent the Carribeans from winning a successive hat-trick of World Cups? In this year’s tournament, Sri Lanka had to struggle hard to beat Afghanistan by 34 runs. We gained one important point when games against Bangladesh and Pakistan were washed out. India nearly lost to Afghanistan (and scraped through by 11 runs), no wonder skipper Kohli was fined for excessive appealing. This is how ODI cricket pans out. Sri Lanka also beat West Indies in a high scoring game but the latter ended in the table only above Afghanistan who lost every game.

So citing statistics in ODI cricket is political talk, just as a drunkard leans on a lamp post not for illumination but for support! Sri Lanka cricket has to get back to the drawing board – much needs to be done if we are to progress. Finally a word of warning: Zimbabwe has just become the first Full Member of the ICC to be suspended due to ‘government interference’. In fact Sri Lanka was warned for the same reason in 2015.   Now about the nitty-gritty of the final game in the CWC 2019: The two field umpires, Dharmasena and Erasmus, along with the Third Umpire have drawn flak for awarding six runs instead of five when a throw from the outfield by Martin Guptill ricocheted off the bat of a diving Ben Stokes and ran to the boundary. Law 19.8, “Overthrow or willful act of fielder”, states: “If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the willful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side, and the allowance for the boundary, and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.” A Law that needs to be looked into again. Pause a moment.

This happened at the tail-end of a hectic game of cricket which kept the umpires, players and the fans in a dizzy. When this incident took place, the umpires would have had to focus the throw, the proper running between wickets by the batsmen (no short runs please) and whether the batsmen have actually crossed etc., etc., not an easy task by any means. However a view of the footage later shows when fielder Guptill released the ball the two batsmen had not yet crossed for the second run. A former elite umpire, Australian Taufel denounced the umpires as having made an “error of judgment”. However Taufel has been watching the game comfortably without any responsibility. To have denounced the umpires publicly is not an ethical act – dog does not bite dog. Chief Match Referee, Ranjan Madugalle’s silence also seems a tad incongruous.

The New Zealanders should be congratulated, especially their skipper Kane Williamson, for the manner which they conducted themselves, under great stress. All cricket fans world-wide wish the entire team be accorded a rapturous welcome when they reach their home country.

England’s win reminds the writer of an incident in past history which has now been adapted into the English language.

In 280 BC, King Pyrrhus of Epirus (in Greece) suffered terribly in a war though they defeated the Romans in the Battle of Asculum. Hence if any side wins a battle but is considered a hollow victory as suffered by King Pyrrhus, such a win is termed a Pyrrhic victory.

So, if the cap fits…….. 


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