Tendulkar, Ponting polarise opinion on walking

To walk or not to walk? The big question at the World Cup has been debated since the contrasting attitudes involving cricket’s two most prolific batsmen emerged on the weekend.

There’s been nothing pedestrian about the criticism for Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who stood his ground until he was given out on a TV umpire’s review despite knowing he’d got a thick edge to Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal in Colombo on Saturday.

Commentators and fans rushed to praise Sachin Tendulkar for deciding to walk in a caught-behind situation even when an umpire had ruled him not out six balls into his 450th limited-overs international. Headlines in Monday’s Times of India read: “Sachin Tendulkar puts integrity above quest for 100th ton.”

The Deccan Herald described Tendulkar, the Little Master, as a true gentleman and described his decision as “Walking tall on the cricketing pitch”.

India ultimately won comfortably against the West Indies at Chennai.

That set up a quarterfinal between Tendulkar’s Indians and Ponting’s Australia, the three-time defending champions, sharpening the focus on the senior statesmen of each team.

Tendulkar is universally admired for his sublime skill and unwaveringly calm demeanour. Ponting has earned the grudging respect of most of the cricket world for a hard-nosed approach that has made him one of Australia’s most successful players and captains.

Old school
Ponting has never been what is known in cricket parlance as a “walker”.

He believes that the lucky reprieves batsmen get when umpires err make up for the bad decisions they get at other times.

The problem is, the bad decisions are magnified these days with teams allowed to challenge calls and have them reviewed by a TV umpire.

The purists uphold the values of a bygone era when players of the gentlemen’s game adhered to unwritten rules of engagement and integrity. The hardened professionals in an increasingly cash-driven era point to the fact that not even the sport’s most sacred underpinning that the umpire’s decision is final — carries weight any more.

After all, the umpire decision referral system in play at the World Cup, and in many international series these days, gives each team two chances per innings to question an umpire’s call and send it for review by an official who has the benefit of video replay technology.

“It’s nice to see people walking but that doesn’t happen now I guess,” Pakistan coach and former fast bowler Waqar Younis said on the weekend. “There is a system in place now so that you can’t get away with it. I mean people still take chances and why not?”

Waqar was talking about Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene’s decision not to take Nathan McCullum at his word when the New Zealander held a spectacular, diving catch in their Group A match at Mumbai. McCullum was infuriated when the third umpire decided that he couldn’t be conclusively, 100% sure that McCullum had his fingers under the ball when it first touched the ground. Jayawardene was given the benefit of the doubt. In an earlier match, South African veteran Jacques Kallis only needed to turn around and ask a rival fielder if he’d cleanly held a catch before he walked off, without consulting the umpire or asking for review.

Apparently, that’s old school. Besides, the gesture is not always unanimously well received.

‘A personal decision’
Ponting’s former deputy, Adam Gilchrist, caused a stir when he walked in the World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka in 2003 after being given not out by the umpire.

Paradoxically, some critics questioned Gilchrist’s motivation. The main contention revolved around Gilchrist’s double duties as batsman and wicketkeeper, with the academic argument proffered that while walking when he knew he was out could be reconciled as a batsman, how could he appeal for a catch when a rival batsman wasn’t sure he’d edged it.

It will always be a matter for the individual.

Ross Taylor, who was standing in as New Zealand captain and had to intervene to cool McCullum down after the Jayawardene decision, said “it depends upon the person”.

“You put it up to the batsman to make the decision and at the end of the day you just hope the technology is right,” he said. “And if the technology is not right, well then don’t use it.”

Yuvraj Singh, who guided India to victory with a century after Tendulkar’s dismissal on Sunday, said he wasn’t surprised by his revered teammate’s decision to walk.

“He felt that he has to walk and he walked. It is a personal decision. It should be left to the person concerned.”

‘A true gentleman’
West Indies captain Darren Sammy was impressed with Tendulkar’s attitude after he feathered an inside edge off Ravi Rampaul to the wicketkeeper in a stunning start to the last group match.

“It shows the measure of the man. He is a true gentleman,” Sammy said. “After 17 000 runs, he could walk! That was brilliant on the part of Sachin.”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) doesn’t take a public position on the “when to walk” issue, but does have a very strict code of conduct governing players actions and reactions on and off the field.

As debate continued on Monday, the ICC’s president Sharad Pawar issued a general statement highlighting the success of the tournament to date.

“The ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 has attracted the attention of the world and it has also provided a show case for the great spirit of cricket as well,” he said. — Sapa-AP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Not a sweet deal, Mister

Mister Sweet workers say they will not risk their health, and the lives of others, to continue producing and packaging confectionaries

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world