Cricket witnessed many controversies in 2015, most of which happened on the field in an ongoing match, while the ones outside the cricket ground was mainly full of politics and verbal statements. There were issues that created a national furore, while others were brushed under the carpet in the face of a new controversy, especially during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Abhishek Kumar compiles such 12 incidents that brought the sport to disrepute in the year that we just bid goodbye to.

1. Rohit Sharma-David Warner spat: During the second One-Day International (ODI) match against Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in the triangular series at the start of the year, there were some words exchanged between Rohit and Warner that created a buzz. It all started with a throw from Warner to the striker’s end,which went between Rohit Sharma’s legs and eluded Brad Haddin’s gloves. The batsmen ran for the resultant overthrow, following which Warner charged at Rohit, resulting in an exchange between the two. After the game, Warner said that he had asked Rohit to speak in English as the Indian batsmen kept saying something in Hindi.

Photo courtesy: Cricket Australia
Photo courtesy: Cricket Australia

 Later, Warner was fined for the ugly spat and he admitted to his mistake, and adding that his ‘speak English’ comment was not derogatory as he did not understand Hindi.

 

2. No ton for James Taylor: In the second ODI of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 between Australia and England at MCG, the hosts posted a humungous total of 342 runs on board. While chasing the target, English players started throwing away their wickets as the required rate kept increasing. But the only player who stood still at the crease was James Taylor, who almost scored the ton but couldn’t because of a technical blunder committed by the on field umpire. Taylor was just two runs short of his maiden ODI hundred when the match got over. Read more: Yearender 2015: 12 ‘firsts’ in cricket

It was the fifth ball of the 42nd over, bowled by Josh Hazlewood. Taylor looked to flick and almost fell over. After a massive appeal from the bowler, umpire Aleem Dar ponders for a second before adjudging it out. Taylor immediately reviews it and it appears the ball might be skating down leg. Funnily though, Aaron Finch had come up and started shaking hands with Taylor, thinking the match was done. But another umpire Kumar Dharmasena was checking for the run-out as the batsmen were looking to sneak a leg bye and it appeared that Glenn Maxwell has found his target to leave James Anderson short of his ground. Dar had given it out lbw and that means the ball was dead. The question was whether he was run out before the umpire’s finger was raised or not.Meanwhile, Taylor kept insisting it to be a dead ball, repeating it over and over as the Australians were busy shaking hands, with the umpires confirming Anderson to be run out.

taylor

Later, a day after the incident, the ICC acknowledged that the game ended incorrectly but it was too late for Taylor, who unfortunately missed out on his first ODI hundred.

 

3. High drama over ‘no ball’: Another controversy at the iconic MCG, and this was probably one of the most intense debates of the year. After defeating England in the group stage, Bangladesh qualified for the quarter-final in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, where they were up against India. Bangladesh had a good hold over their opponents in after getting three Indian wickets for a score of 115 runs. From there on, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina started building a decent partnership to help their side recover from the early jolts. During the stand came a full toss by Rubel Hossain in the fourth ball of the 40th over. Umpire Dar called it for a no-ball as the full toss was above the batsman’s waist according to him. But the replay indicated that the ball had clearly dipped below the waist and that the batsman should have been given out. Rohit was then in the nineties and then went on to make 137 and helped the team in scoring a good total of 302.

Rohit-no-ball

Umpire Dar’s decision sparkled the public outrage in Bangladesh which was followed by ICC President Mustafa Kamal’s resignation and then their nation’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina too jumped into this and claimed that her country would not have lost had the correct decision been given. However, ICC defended itself by saying it a 50-50 call, whereas the spirit of the game suggests that the umpire’s decision is the last and must be respected. Dar was later was kept out from his job for further World Cup matches.

 

4. Kyle Abbot exclusion from South African side in semi-final: South Africa’s loss to New Zealand in the World Cup 2015 was amongst the biggest heartbreaks for their nation in its cricket history. There were many discussions on why they lost, while a few people raised their eyebrows on the selection of the team in that match. It is said that changes were enforced to meet the quota requirements which actually left the side flat in the semi-final, as Vernon Philander was selected ahead of Abbott in that match.

Abbott played four matches in the World Cup 2015 and took nine wickets at 14.44, which is the best average by a South African bowler in the tournament. South Africa’s high performance coach Mike Horn accepted that the selection was very much influenced by politics. Philander’s selection in the team raised the number of ‘players of colour’ – a term which encompasses black Africans, mixed-race people and those of Asian descent – to four and bought a bit of controversy after the match. But further, Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat denied this issue and said, “There was and is no political interference in our selections”.

 

5. Brad Haddin’s controversial interview after winning the World Cup 2015 final: During the final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 between Australia and New Zealand at MCG, Haddin gave plenty of verbals and a few send-offs to the Black Caps batsmen. In the post-match interview, when asked about the incident, Haddin said, “They deserved it. They were that nice to us in New Zealand (for the pool match) and we were that uncomfortable”. With this statement, Haddin broke the headlines of the news papers and became the talk of the town.

The gesture that won hearts all over but probably Brad Haddin didn't like it
The gesture that won hearts all over but probably Brad Haddin didn’t like it

 

Here's Haddin giving Elliott a send-off in the World Cup final
Here’s Haddin giving Elliott a send-off in the World Cup final

But later, he apologised for his controversial statement on the Kiwi players and accepted that he was drunk during the interview.

 

6. Indian fan Sudhir Gautam attacked in Dhaka: During India’s tour of Bangladesh after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Indian cricket team’s and Sachin Tendulkar’s ardent fan Sudhir Gautam was attacked by Bangladeshi fans in Dhaka. He claimed and told a Hindi news channel that he was attacked by a mob during the second ODI, which Bangladesh won and sealed the series against India for the first time. Sudhir also added further and said that he was pelted by stones and his auto-rickshaw was attacked but security officials rescued him during the scene.

 

7. S Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila released: The three Rajasthan Royals (RR) cricketers were arrested in2013 for their alleged involvement in the betting spot-fixing scandal during the IPL 2013 by the Delhi Police. Furthermore, Sreesanth and Chavan had to face life bans imposed by the BCCI, while Chandila’s remained pending before the board’s disciplinary committee. Soon, BCCI is expected decide the issue of Chandila, whereas, Sreesanth and Chavan were released on July, 2015 by the court on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence for prosecution under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). But the life ban remained with both these cricketers by BCCI, which is actually a contempt of court given that the allegations are still not proven.

 

8. Chennai Super Kings,Rajasthan Royals suspended for two years: In July 2015, the Lodha committee suspended both the teams for two years from IPL and banned Gurunath Meiyappan — former team officials of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Raj Kundra — co-owner of RR, from any involvement in cricket for life.

It all started in 2013, when three cricketers of RR — Sreesanth, Chavan and Chandila — were found to be involved in the spot-fixing scandal. The allegations were that these three players agreed to concede a certain amount of runs of monetary considerations. Furthermore, police presented video evidence in front of the media. Later, in the same year on July, CSK official Meiyappan and RR co-owner Kundra were alleged to have indulged in betting. Then, Supreme Court of India appointed Mudgal Commission to look into the IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal and after numerous hearing and proceedings; both the teams were suspended for two years which broke many fans’ heart as they are one of the most popular side of the tournament. Read more: Yearenders 2015: 22 best quotes from cricketers this year  

 

9. Ben Stokes given out obstructing the field: During the second ODI between England and Australia at Lord’s cricket ground on September 5, 2015, an ugly and controversial incident took place which divided the cricketing world into two sides. In the second innings, when England were chasing a target of 310 runs, Stokes was adjudged out for obstructing the field. It was the fourth ball of the 26th over, bowled by Mitchell Starc a full length delivery at 145 kph which Stokes drove back to the bowler. Starc stretched his left hand and aimed the stumps, sensing out a run out chance. Stokes, who was out of the crease, fends the throw off with his left glove/ instinctively looks to protect himself, as he loses his balance and collapses on the floor. Wicket-keeper Matthew Wade and Starc appealed, while umpires Dharmasena and Tim Robinson converge. The soft signal was not out but was given out obstructing the field by the TV umpire Joe Wilson. Captain Steven Smith and Eoin Morgan intervene and have a chat with the umpires. Boos ring around Lord’s. Morgan was not happy with the decision. Stokes drags himself off the field. Roy, in the balcony, can’t believe it and from there on, an off-field verbal spat started.

Video: Ben Stokes’ ‘obstructing the field’ dismissal in the 2nd ODI between England and Australia, at Lord’s. Was Stoke’s deliberately trying to stop the ball?

Posted by CricLife on Saturday, 5 September 2015

 

Many former and active cricketers around the world did not agree with the decision, among who was Australian spin legend Shane Warne, who indirectly disagreed with the umpires decision and posted a video which states the law of obstructing the field.

Stokes too, opened up after the match and said, “A guy was standing there five feet away from me and it was just a complete reaction. I didn’t put my hand there wilfully, it was purely out of human reaction to protect myself. But the decision was made, there’s nothing I can do, but it wasn’t wilful whatsoever. It’s one of those decisions; you can’t look back and have regrets because it’s made. You can’t change what’s happened it’s just a shame it came to the uproar it has.”

10. Michael Clarke slams John Buchanan in his new book: After announcing his retirement from all forms of cricket, Clarke was questioned by few of his former teammates over his leadership as Australia lost the Ashes 2015. Clarke replied to all their questions through his “Ashes Diary 2015”. He also slammed former Australian coach John Buchanan and taunted him for never playing for his country, stating, “Even my dog Jerry” could have had similar success. Clarke also said, “I don’t think John knows a thing about the baggy green (cap), having never worn one.”

Buchanan hit back at Clarke in no time, adding, “Players like Steve Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and others really tried to make the Baggy Green culture something special but I could sense it was under threat, and under Michael’s captaincy I can sense it has disappeared a bit and that disappointed me.” Buchanan indirectly got the support from Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden, Shane Watson and Mark Waugh, who had different opinion about him. Later, Clarke showed his regrets over the dog reference for Buchanan, but during all this it was clear that many Australian cricketers never liked his leadership.

 

11. Nagpur pitch: As South African batting fell like pack of cards against the India spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravindra Jadeja, and getting bowled out for at 79, the cricketing fraternity started criticising the Nagpur pitch during the third Test between India and South Africa. The score was the lowest since South Africa’s readmission to international cricket and also the lowest against India. Diabolical. Absurd. Minefield. Crooked floor. Akhara. Baffling. Martian surface – These were the many such harsh words used by cricketing pundits and former greats for describing the Jamtha pitch which produced yet another three-day Test in the series.

Nagpur-pitch-india-south-africa

Meanwhile, there was another Test match was going between Australia and New Zealand at Perth, where a flat track was witnessed and both the teams batsmen were scoring heavy runs and almost no help for the bowlers. Well that match must have ended with the play of five days but was surely another boring match where no result came. Soon, the cricket fraternity was found to be divided into two segments and some were against Nagpur pitch, while others were against Perth but all the attention came towards the Indian side and many commented it as a ‘diabolical pitch’. Further, match refree Jeff Crowe rated the pitch as ‘poor’ and felt the pitch did not allow a fair contest between the bat and the ball. Later, ICC came into action and gave an official warning to Vidarbha Cricket Association for preparing such pitch.

 

12. A big hush hush over Ind-Pak series: Both BCCI and Pakistan cricket board (PCB) signed a MOU in 2014, under which the two countries agreed to play six series against each other between 2015 and 2023. But all that went in vain when a lot of hush hush were witnessed in the Indian politics. Everything was going fine and India was expected to play against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in December 2015. But after an attack at Gurdaspur by suspected Pakistani terrorists. Several people were killed in that attack including few officers as well.

This attack created a roar in the Indian politics and few parties started boycotting the India-Pak series. Shiv Sena (An Indian political party) members attacked BCCI office of Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium and demanded to cancel the talks between Shashank Manohar and Shahryar Khan. Further, news came that there’s a possibility of series in Sri Lanka but that too didn’t happened. Meanwhile, few former cricketers were in favour of the series.Read more: 2014 yearender: West Indies pull-out, N Srinivasan’s stand and other controversies

(Abhishek Kumar is a cricket devotee currently staffing with Criclife.com. He can be followed at abhicricket.kumar and @abhishekkr2593)