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In the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 game played between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), AB de Villiers won thunderous applause for his jaw-dropping innings of 89. However, the vanquished fast bowler, Dale Steyn too was hailed for being gracious in defeat. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at the rare treasured moment when Steyn showed great sportsman spirit.
At present, the wonderful world of cricket seems to be made up of a mob of cricketers who snarl, growl and sledge their way to taste the glory of success. It has virtually become a part and parcel of the game to see a fast bowler and group of fielders bad mouthing a batsman like a pack of hungry vultures. The days of showcasing sportsman spirit by upholding the well-established traditions of the ‘gentleman’s game’ seems more like a thing of the past.
However, in the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 game, the incredibly talented AB de Villiers — with his preternatural hand-eye co-ordination — destroyed undisputedly the world’s best quick bowler, Dale Steyn. He smashed him in a 360-degree arc. But the amazing story was more to do with Steyn showcasing sportsman spirit after being clambered by de Villiers.
Steyn, known for his profusion of virtuosity to swing the ball late with a bolt upright seam was for once treated like a net bowler, and was thumped for 24 runs a single over. But that did not stop the genial Steyn from clapping his good mate, de Villiers, at the end of the over, and opining that he is in a ‘different class’ to rest of the batsmen going around.
After the nail-biting contest got over with Bangalore eschewing a memorable win, the swing-merchant went one step further by hugging his South African team-mate. One associates a fast bowler to be grumpy on the cricket field, who with his piercing glare and sledging just wants to get the better of a batsman. Steyn showed remarkable sportsman spirit by being gracious in defeat. In fact, Steyn hugging de Villiers at the end of the game will probably go down as one of the most treasured moments in the history of the IPL.
The glitzy and glamorous world of the IPL rightly has its share of critics, but when you see a slew of world-class players combining fabulous skill with geometric precision to leave everyone spellbound, you have to say that the tournament is here to stay. And then you get to see a rare moment of a cricketer, who has reached lofty heights with his banana-bending swing bowling showcasing sportsman spirit of the highest order, it tells us that everything isn’t lost for the gentleman’s game. One can only salute Dale Steyn!
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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