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UNFAIR PLAY at Headingley

UNFAIR PLAY at Headingley.

When James Anderson lost his wicket fending off the umpteenth bouncer at Headingley, it was the clear duty of the umpire to call "no ball". Law 46 - Fair and Unfair Play (short pitched bowling) insists that the umpire acts under two separate threads of the Playing conditions. 1. Only two bouncers per over - the ball in question was the third or fourth. And 2. Repeated short pitchers which by their line and height are likely to inflict injury - Anderson had already taken a considerable blow on his bowling hand.

On the second count there is reinforcement of the instruction to umpires. They shall NOT take into account protective clothing. They SHALL take into account the relative skill of the batsman. Anderson bats at number 11 because his skill level against a "bodyline" assault is modest.

What part of the word "unfair" do these "world class"? umpires not understand? Though I picked out the last ball dismissal as an open and shut case for intervention, they had ample evidence to take action much earlier. On various occasions the fast bowlers went round the wicket with the sole intention of " bouncing" people out. "Repeated" Yes. "Length" Yes. "Direction" Yes. Prior was bounced out twice. Not something that should happen to a player of his skill but the ploy was unfair in the first place.

I do not begrudge Sri Lanka their first Series victory in England. The batting of their Captain Mathew was the outstanding individual performance of the match - although new boy Moyin's century for England was hardly far behind.
England's bowlers had a shocker on the fourth day and barely deserved to be let out of jail.

But to go back to Moyin. I am sure that I was not the only one to detect real style and composure on his previous appearances and credit to the selectors for pinning their faith in quality rather than quantity. The most telling feature for me is how narrow he looks in defence, meaning that he has retained his sideways position more than most of the moderns.

Being lazy by nature, I doubt I would have put two fingers to my IPad keys but for a separate concern about the conduct of the match. If comments after the fourth day by ex- Captain Jayawardene were accurately reported, when he brazenly voiced the intention to "give plenty" to England's less experienced batsmen i.e. Sledging, then I believe he should have been taken to task by the ICC referee for bringing the game into disrepute.
It is a pernicious development in our greatest of games and cuts right across the principles of the preamble to the Laws setting out in detail what is meant by " The Spirit of the Game". Sledging is shoddy, underhand, secretive and generally abusive. Not only to the recipient but the game itself.

The very thought of Gary Sobers, that Prince of Sportsmen, indulging in such sleazy tactics is ridiculous. Or Wesley Hall or Richie Benaud - all colossi of the game and revered down the generations. The sledgers of the modern game, however talented they may be with bat or ball, may do well to consider to what extent their legacy will be for ever tarnished by opening their mouths once too often.