Poor Randiv. The guy has gone from a promising bowler and Murali-successor to subcontinental scourge, pilloried by one of the greatest Test batsmen of our time, as well as his own cricket board.
Granted, his crime — deliberately no-balling a delivery to deny Virender Sehwag centurion status — doesn’t deserve any plaudits. It was also strange: Randiv bowled a couple of deliveries, which Sehwag hit straight to a fielder, but then, apparently after a word from T. Dilshan, he decided he had enough and prematurely ended the show.
OK. He apologized, Sangakarra apologized, India’s cricket team manager accepted. All well and good. But I think the scandal speaks to the double standard that bowlers have to endure in cricket. Batsmen don’t have to walk after nicking a ball; they can pull out of a delivery if they’re not ready, and they can even stop play if they don’t like their bat or gloves. What unwritten rights do bowlers really have?
Take another example: if two batsmen are struggling to make it to the end of a day’s play in a Test match, they will do all they can to delay each over. Frequent conversations, gardening, you name it. And that’s allowed! Sure, some forward umpires will frown about it, but most authorities generally accept the practice.
It’s not a perfect analogy to the Randiv incident, I realize. Randiv had nothing to gain from the match by no-balling; it was nothing less than a mean-spirited play to deny another play a token award. But if you’re a bowler in the modern era, embattled and bruised as you are by what counts for a proper pitch these days, you’ll take any small liberties you can. And if that means sticking it to a batsman, so be it.