Home > FIFA World Cup 2014 > FIFA World Cup Features >

The Luis Suarez bite shows cricket in pearly whites

Luis-Suarez
Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez biting his opponent in the FIFA World Cup has put football in a poor light yet again © Getty Images

 

After the recent mouthful indulged in by Luis Suarez, Arunabha Sengupta looks back at various chunks bitten off sporting history and concludes that in this one area – and perhaps the only one – cricket has remained a gentleman’s game.

Luis Suarez shows all the signs of becoming a gourmet. After sampling the Dutch fare, he moved on to the more exotic Serbian meat before settling down to Italian delights. Ottman Bakkal and Branislav Ivanovic have given way to Giorgio Chiellini as the Uruguayan forward’s favoured item on the menu.

Coming close to chomping his way out of the FIFA World Cup 2014, Suarez has triggered off a sensational saga of Lecterian lists that throw light on the diabolical dental deeds in sports. Anyone who has spent some time on the Suarez story in print or electronic media by now knows of the many occasions when competitiveness has been transcended at the heat of the moment and worthy men have courted cannibalism.

All that is probably good for our noble game of cricket. If we view the numerous slideshows and embedded videos of gnashing teeth through our cricketing eyes, we find that this is perhaps one of the few remaining means to stick to the fable of the gentleman’s game. After all, there is no documented history of sinking one’s teeth into flesh in any cricket match – unless one brings backbiting into the frame. Away from cricket, there have been many bites across time, sports and body parts.

We know of Mike Tyson’s infamous snap at Evander Holyfield in 1997, the gruesome act which had seen a tiny part of the latter stay back in the ring after the fight – and which had given birth to the once famous screensaver ‘Teethson versus Holyear’. A decade and a half later, British Bulldog James Graham lived up to the name of his team when his teeth closed down on the ear of Storm fullback Billy Slater in the 2012 National Rugby League grand final at Sydney.

The famous ‘Tree Bites Man’ incident of basketball in1983 saw Atlanta’s Wayne ‘Tree’ Rollins sink his teeth into the finger of Boston Celtic’s Danny Ainge – necessitating tetanus shots. The 2011 Stanley Cup finals saw digital dingo-ism repeated again when Canucks winger Alex Burrows chose Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron as his favoured finger-food. Two years before that, in 2009, heated exchanges on the frozen rink of ice hockey witnessed the Senators right wing Jarko Ruutu bring some variation into the hand to mouth tales bygnawing at the thumb of the Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters.

Down Under, the series of incidents reached the lower depths in 2012. Former NRL player Anthony Watts, turning out for Tugun Seahawks against Bilambil Jets in the Gold Coast League, was tackled by an opponent and in retaliation sunk his fangs into the sprawling man’s penis. It inspired a Taiwanese animation involving hungry jaws and hotdogs.

Perhaps the obvious greater impact of videos of such teeth clenching incidents has made the media neglect some of the early biting history. In the 1924 Summer Olympics at Paris, local middleweight boxer Roger Brousse manfully chose to demonstrate to the world that the French disdain for British fare was pure fiction. In the quarter finals, he chose to dine out on his opponent, the Hackney Wick born Harry Mallin. The British boxer showed the referee bite marks on his shoulder and chest, but his appeal was overruled by the judges. The bout was awarded to the feasting Frenchman on points. However, a later complaint by a Swedish official, Oscar Söderland, made the judges ruminate on the incident and call for medical tests that proved that the Briton had indeed been bitten. Brousse was disqualified and Mallin went on to win the gold medal.

Cricket, though, has no such toothsome tales. The nip remains largely in the air, the nibble is carried out by the tentative bat and the bite is obtained from the pitch while sometimes nails are bitten down to the quick. Shahid Afridi did bring his fangs into the fray, but the ball he masticated on was unattached to other body parts, and was made of pure leather. And while Steve Waugh confessed that his favourite animal was Merv Hughes, the cartoon that accompanied the feature showed Waugh walking the jovial fast bowler on all fours with the confirmation, “His name’s Merv and he doesn’t bite.”

One may argue that cricket is spared because of the sheer nature of the game – while encouraging every personal mark, it offers little in the way of allowing them to be made with the choppers. True, but then even the similar sport of baseball has succumbed to the occasional snack. Last month, during a game against Triple-A Albuquerque, Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Alex Guerrero got into a fight with minor league teammate Miguel Olivo and had his ear bitten in the scuffle.

Cricket has been tarnished by betting, fixing, sledging and pretty much everything that goes under the guise of gamesmanship. And contrary to popular belief, this has always been the case. It never was a gentleman’s game, other than in the pristine whiteness of the flannels donned to walk into the ground.

However, perhaps in this one area, it is still remains pearly white.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Melbourne

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Jan 2, 2015 (14:00 IST)   at Cape Town

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Jan 3, 2015 (03:30 IST)   at Wellington

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 68 runs

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014  at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Australia won by 4 wkts

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014  at Centurion

South Africa won by an innings and 220 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Ind vs Aus: Dhoni analyses the 4-wicket loss at Brisbane

Murali Vijay’s 144 among most runs scored by an Indian on Day 1 of overseas Test

Live Cricket Score Ranji Trophy 2014-15, Round 3, Day 1 — All matches

India’s collapse against Australia on 2nd Test at Brisbane: Did the visitors really bat badly on Day 4?

India vs Australia 2014-15, Brisbane: India marks out of 10

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail tales

Anil Kumble Australia India Moments in history Ricky Ponting South Africa

Ranji Trophy 2014-15: Parvez Rasool half-century puts Jammu & Kashmir in control against Baroda

Murali Vijay enters Top 20 ICC Test batsman rankings for first time

South Africa vs West Indies 2014-15: Rilee Rossouw replaces Quinton de Kock in Test squad

Ranji Trophy 2014-15 Round 3, Gujarat vs Saurashtra: Akshar Patel helps Gujarat reduce Saurashtra to 207

Ranji Trophy 2014-15 Round 3, Tamil Nadu vs Madhya Pradesh: Jalaj Saxena ton guides visitors to 250/4

Can Eoin Morgan change England’s limited-overs fortunes?

Pakistan vs New Zealand ODI series 2014: A look back at the series

Murali Vijay’s 144 among most runs scored by an Indian on Day 1 of overseas Test

Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and others scoring century on their Captaincy Debut in Test cricket

Batsman given hit wicket after mobile phone falls on stumps

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

683 Posts | 6 Fans

Mitchell Johnson's 37 wickets against England in Ashes 2013-14

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here