ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 49

Hook or by crook!

The game of cricket is full of purists like land mines buried on the peripheries of a war zone. Inevitably they blow up at the wrong moment and maim the wrong people.

It was not so long ago we had the likes of Ian Chappell and Michael Holding screaming their guts out howling out to the ICC to probe into the dropping of two Sri Lankan players for their match against Australia in the super eights stage. The allegation was match fixing which tantamount to cheating. If those cricket purists were trying to make out that the Sri Lankan cricket hierarchy erred by the law of cricket in that game how would they describe the despicable Gilchrist stunt of hiding a foreign substance in his batting glove to get an undue advantage over the Sri Lankan bowlers who had bowled pretty well up to that stage in the World Cup.

How legal?

JEROME GASPERSON writes from Australia: I read the article “How legal was Adam Gilchrist’s ‘hidden ball’?” You have very valid points and there are a few more unanswered questions that are worth pursuing further.
The other points to note are:
# Gilchrist never used the “squash ball” in the past and also in any of the other 10 games prior to the finals. Did the “squash ball” help?
# Gilchrist was out of form and didn’t score many runs in the whole World Cup tour apart from the finals. Did the “squash ball” provide Gilchrist the required assistance to bring him back to form?
# The World Cup final was between Sri Lanka and Gilchrist (not Australia). All other inform Australian batsmen were struggling to score except the out-of-form Gilchrist who had this “squash ball” to enhance his grip or did it?
# Most of his shots, mainly his eight sixes, were massive and cleared the grounds. Did the “squash ball” help?
# The number of sixes hit by Gilchrist amounts to eight in the finals, compared to two in the previous 10 games. Is it because of the “squash ball”?
# Gilchrist’s average without the last innings would have been a mere 30.40 compared to the 45.30 after the finals. Did the “squash ball” help to boost his average?
# Gilchrist’s strike rate without the last innings would have been 91.57 compared to the 103.89 after the finals. Again, did the “squash ball” provide that extra power?
Given the above and the points you raised, your natural tendency would be to believe that the “squash ball” might have given him that extra edge or did it?
His 2007 World Cup Statistics are as follows:
Matches 11, Innings 11, Not Out 1, Runs 453, Highest Score 149, Average 45.30, Balls faced 436, Strike rate 103.89, Hundreds 1, Fifties 2, Zeroes 0, Fours 58, Sixes 10.
I am not taking anything away from Adam Gilchrist’s excellent innings. That was an amazing innings which will be remembered by many for years to come. However, the question still remains: is it legal to use such equipment and will it provide assistance?

When we were watching the onslaught by Gilchrist on the Lankan bowlers we were wondering as to how he got this new lease of life. A man who was struggling to live up to his potential was batting far beyond even his true capabilities. This normally belligerent Mathew Hayden looked like a passenger waiting at bus stand for a bus which was already late. : Gilchrist faced 104 balls and hit thirteen fours and eight sixes while all the other batsmen Hayden, Ponting, Symonds, Watson, in all faced 127 balls collectively and hit just seven fours and two sixes. And generally in the Australian camp it is Hayden and Symonds who are the batsmen who are reputed for their awesome massacre of bowlers. Nevertheless when we saw the unholy batting display of Gilchrist we accepted ‘seeing is believing’ and resigned ourselves to our fate.

Alas! But before we could get over bitterness of swallowing our pride the squash ball began to circle. As the news came by we read – “By Gilchrist's own admission, he had 'something' in his left glove all through his knock. In fact, upon reaching the century, Gilchrist first doffed his bat towards his teammates in the pavilion, acknowledged the applause of the spectators, and then kept repeatedly pointing to his left batting glove with his right hand.

At the post match press conference Gilchrist admitted that the message was directed to his Western Australian batting coach Bob Meuleman who is also a squash player of repute in his state. It is said that upon Meuleman's advice, Gilchrist had been carrying a squash ball in his left, bottom hand to help him with his grip.

Then carrying a foreign substance which is not approved by the laws of cricket – does it look good on Australia’s legality of the World Cup win. We will just have a look at what Law number 3 of cricket laws have to say.

Cricket Law III

3.6. Conduct of the game, implements and equipment
Before the toss and during the match, the umpires shall satisfy themselves that:
(a) the conduct of the game is strictly in accordance with the Laws.
(b) The implements of the game conform to the requirements of Laws 5 (the ball) and 6 (The bat), together with either Laws 8.2 (Size of stumps) and 8.3 (The bails) or, if appropriate, Law 8.4 (Junior Cricket).
(c) (i) no player uses equipment other than that permitted.
(ii) the wicket-keeper’s gloves comply with the requirements of Law 40.2 (Gloves).

Prior to this Dennis Lilee's aluminium bat and Ricky Ponting's graphite-coated bat were not permitted by the cricket authorities. At the same time Hansie Cronje's earpiece stunt of having a chat with the coach Bob Woolmer while the match was in progress was also shot down in mid air by the authorities. Then the question that arises is did Gilchrist seek and obtain approval from the cricket’s authorities before he used such a device? Did he inform and seek approval from the match umpires and the opposing captain Mahela Jayawardena on such an experiment?

The laws of cricket are very precise on protective gear as given above. Then this device cannot be termed as a protective gear and only be termed as a power enhancing substance. Nowhere in the cricketing laws have they approved the squash ball as a protective gear.

Vijitha Herath of the University of Paderborn, Germany, writes on the issue:

Apropos the claim that Adam Gilchrist had a squash ball in his left glove during his innings at the finals of the cricket World Cup.
Let me offer a scientific perspective.

A squash ball is a rubber ball. Unlike a cricket (leather) ball, it compresses when pressure is applied on it. When the pressure is released, it takes its original shape. In short, it acts like a spring (e.g.: a motorcycle shock absorber).

So what happens when a batsman has a squash ball in the palm of his bottom hand?

When a batsman swings the bat until it hits the ball, there is pressure on his bottom hand. This pressure compresses the squash ball thus storing energy in the ball similar to spring. Just after the ball hits the bat (ball still touching the bat) this pressure starts to relax while the bat is moving forward.

At the same time the energy stored in the squash ball releases its energy to the bat in the form of kinetic energy. The result is that the bat moves faster than normal (without a ball in the glove).

As a result, the release-speed of the cricket ball becomes faster resulting in the ball travelling further before hitting the ground. Therefore it results in more sixes and fours being scored.

The downside is because the bat travels faster than normal the batsman might lose control of the bat. This happened once in the Adam Gilchrist’s innings when the bat slipped out of his hands and fell behind the wickets. If you have any doubts please try to do it yourself and see the result.

In brief Gilchrist’s use of the squash ball allowed him to hit the ball further in the field.

The above explanation clearly gives you an insight into the fact that the squash ball was used not purely as a protective gear but, as a performance enhancer to a player who was playing his last World Cup innings and did not care of the consequences, but was hell bent on rubbing some glory upon himself.

Then at a beauty pageant if the winner is discovered as person with an immoral past she is stripped off her title. In athletics if a participant is found that he/she has taken performance enhancing drugs they are relieved from their titles. But, what action are the authorities hoping to take on this under hand act? How would the so called purists describe this deliberate breach of cricket law?

Can Mr. Ian Chappell or some purist explain this to me?

Finally just see the Australian ingenuity --the blessings of 33 million deities which the entire country sought could not bring Sri Lanka victory, but, one little squash ball hidden by an over zealous cricketer inside his batting glove was able to give Australia that much sought after cricket’s biggest gift with consummate ease.

P.S. According to a high ranking SLC official its hierarchy had met on the issue but, had arrived at the notion that though it does not permit a foreign object inside the batting glove, it also does not prevent anyone from having it. He also does not want the Aussies to feel that we are cry babies.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.