Was it in spirit of cricket, Mr Sangakkara, to protect Mahela from possible ban?

Kumar Sangakkara (second from left) substitutes Mahela Jayawardene as captain in the 2012 World T20 game against England. Is this the same man who lectured at the 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey about playing the game in the right spirit? © Getty Images

By Vincent Sunder


Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene has been fined for maintaining a slow over rate in the ICC World T20 Championship Super Eight game against West Indies. When their next game came up against England, what do we see? Kumar Sangakkara, and not captain Mahela Jayawardene, walks out for the toss, since “Mahela has lost three tosses in a row”!

It dawns later that this act was just an insurance to protect Mahela, since another infringement would mean a ban on the player for one game. Someone who wanted, in his 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture, to “protect the game’s global governance from narrow self-interest, and more aggressively root out corruption” and said “the spirit of cricket can and should remain a guiding force for good within society” wore a different hat, took the coin and blatantly lied when he stated the lost tosses were the reason for his turning up. Credit to England and Stuart Broad, who was also in a position similar to that of Jayawardene, when England were docked for slow over rates in their previous game against New Zealand.



For some reason, the toss fiasco when Kumar Sangakkara called first and the confusion thereafter that led to the unprecedented re-toss comes to mind again.


Now, what does the other ‘spirit of cricket’ messiah Tony Greig has to say? On Twitter his comments are “Good thinking by SL – they don’t want their captain banned for a match if they are fined again for slow over rate”, and “SL entitled to change captains – those who are critical don’t fully understand – need to have played a bit and even then not all of us agree”


Whilst the context of the “even then not all of us agree” is not clear, this is the reaction from the Sri Lankan Tourism Ambassador, who in June 2011 while delivering the 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey lecture said, “The spirit of cricket is not just about adhering to the laws of the game. It’s about something far more enduring, adhering to a set of values that can elevate you above the hum drum, above the cynicism that can drag you down if you let it”.


You can talk, but simply cannot walk when there is something at risk in a game of cricket! Right? Spirit be damned and simply go by rules. If hypocrisy needed two living examples, this tournament gave us two iconic examples.

Super Slow Overs and Substitutions! 
With the excitement of the upcoming Super Over, also came an annoyingly long wait for the action to begin. The International Cricket Council (ICC) would do well to bring about changes on how the Super Overs would be conducted.

For starters, have teams nominate their “Super Over Team” along with the playing eleven team sheet at the start of the game.


This would take away the advantage of bringing in a ‘performer’ after the game, but a rule that applies equally to both sides should not cause any heartburn to either side.


Stipulate the break between the close of the scheduled match and the time for bowling the Super Over so that we don’t have to wait eternally for teams to debate and discuss. Quite simply, let teams be prepared for this eventuality.


Finally, ban teams from brining in substitutes for the Super Over. West Indies conveniently substituted Sunil Narine once the decision was made to use Marlon Samuels as the bowler. On the lines of not changing the field for the ‘free hit’ simply state that the eleven that fielded the last over of the regular game will be on the field. Simply don’t give into explanations that an injury occurred between close of the scheduled time and the start of the Super Over, the only exception being a player who genuinely was injured while batting after his side fielded first. Quite clearly, very few gentlemen play this game these days.

To Mankad or Not?

Any why is Mankading a wrong thing, dear Chris Gayle and Mitchell Starc? Will be interesting to see how they go if the opposition needs two runs to win of the last ball of the World Cup T20 semi-final!


(Vincent Sunder aspired to play Test cricket, but had to struggle to play ‘gully’ cricket! He managed a league side to title triumph in the KSCA tournaments. He was debarred from umpiring in the gully games after he once appealed vociferously for a caught-behind decision when officiating as an umpire! After two decades in the corporate sector, he became an entrepreneur with the objective of being able to see cricket matches on working days as well. Vincent gets his ‘high’ from cricket books and cricket videos and discussing cricket)