Eighth-ranked West Indies has annihilated third-ranked England to reclaim the Wisden Trophy, the symbol of supremacy in Test series between the two teams after almost a decade in England’s hands.
West Indies, who were soundly beaten 0-2 in their last Test series away to Bangladesh, thrashed the English by 381 runs in the first Test in Barbados inside four days, and Saturday February 2, the hosts completed a 10-wicket trouncing of the visitors inside three days for an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
The third Test starts on today, Saturday February 9, at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia.
Windies fans incensed
But while the home team and many suffering supporters should have been celebrating a long overdue triumph over the colonial masters, they were left incensed by the one-match ban imposed on skipper Jason Holder for the team’s slow over-rate in the second Test in Antigua.
According to the International Cricket Council (ICC), Holder’s West Indies were two overs short of their required quota during the contest at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium which West Indies won emphatically with two days to spare.
Holder, as captain, was fined 40 per cent of his match fee, double that of his players, and slapped with the ban, as the breach was the second for the West Indies in the last 12 months.
Slap in the face
But many, including this writer, see the punishment as a slap in the face of the sport and common sense. Simply put, this rule is ridiculous and is similar in many ways to some other rules imposed on athletes in other sporting disciplines.
For example, in track and field, the one false start rule in track events wreaks of stupidity and it brings to the fore inequity to the participants.
In one of the highest intensities, high-pressure, events like the 100-meter sprint, athletes are given no chance for error, while in the field events athletes are given up to six chances to get it right, be it high jump, long jump, pole vault, triple jump, shot put, discus throw, you name it.
And, all this while the organizers find justification in allotting a whole segment for ‘sprinters’ who did not make the qualifying standards and quite frankly did not deserve to be a competitor at the event.
Then there is football where players automatically receive a yellow card caution if they pull their shirts over their heads in celebrating a goal.
It is my view that scoring a goal in any football match is one of the greatest achievements which inevitably evokes a myriad of reactions, many of which pull fans closer to individuals and the game in general. It’s about emotions, passion and the love of a sport.
To significantly restrict celebrations of goals, is in many ways stifling the emotions and passion of the players, who are the most important factors in sports.
Now if players were to lift their shirts and reveal political, religious or offensive messages, then I would join in the call for sanctions.
But, back to Test cricket. I was happy to see Cricket West Indies president, Jamaican Dave Cameron weighing in on the matter re Holder’s suspension. Too often some leaders try to be politically correct, much to the detriment of the sport they serve.
Cameron said, “We will, of course, abide by the ICC ruling, but we have to wonder if such punitive action at a pivotal stage of the series is good for cricket. What a shame if the series is remembered not for the sparkling play of the reinvigorated West Indies players, but for a crippling decision made by a rule that ought to be modified.”
Former test greats slams ban
And many former Test greats slammed the world governing body and its insensitive rule.
“Test didn’t go 3 days – can you please appeal this @JaseHolder98!” tweeted Australian spin bowling great Shane Warne. “What a ridiculous decision – where is common sense here? Ps Congrats on a wonderful series win too. International cricket needs a strong Windies team & hopefully, this is just the start.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughn also slammed the ICC decision as “bonkers”, arguing the fact that the match lasted less than three days.
And prominent commentator Mike Haysmann called for a review of the controversial rule. “It makes no sense to suspend leaders who excel inside the stipulated five days. Just makes no sense to rob the team of a captain like this. Review please, now.”
It’s full-time athletes come together in their various sporting disciplines and take a stand. After all, they are the most important piece of any sporting puzzle and they are the ones with real power. Use it if you must!