Rules are meant to be broken unless it is cricket in which case the rules are golden even if going by them is farcical. And that is exactly what it was at Centurion as lunch was called with India needing one run to tie and two to win. Argument: the extra fifteen minutes granted as an extension in one-dayers expired without India reaching the winning total.
So a forty minute break was ordered by the match referee and that left a goodly crowd in the stands stuck for what would be a mere absurd formality.
What was so sacrosanct about the need for what could be one ball more. What is the use of a match referee and that set of officials in the cricketing hierarchy if they could not have extended the game by another over after checking with the two captains.
You mess around with the time with that Duckworth Lewis-Stern stuff and time is murdered by field checks and dam patches so it is not written in stone.
But to trot off the field and freeze the game when the sun is shining, there is no force majeur on the horizon and 186 balls to go for two runs to victory play on and let folks go home. As it is when we got back to the game they had… gone home that is.
What if they had carried on. Who would have complained? Would the skies have fallen, the cricket gods shown their anger and disapproval, cricket’s glory tarnished?
The fans would not have been angry. The whole idea behind the rules is to improve a game and not detract from it. What exactly has been gained by sticking to the letter.
It is not as if the advertisers derive much benefit because no one is watching the game. In fact, it goes against the ad quota because by breaking the game ‘s live telecast no one is going to hang around forty minutes for a one minute effort. If they had been allowed to play on folks would have stayed in front of their sets to watch the highlights and the ceremony. The drop in viewership would be almost total.
Many a viewer who missed the collapse of the South African team would have liked to see the highlights without pushing off. To get that lot back to the screen in the immediate aftermath is not likely.
This action will go down in sports history as one of the most ludicrous where time has wrecked viewing a game or talking it to its sensible conclusion.
This decision hangs right there on the wall of sports infamy with Diego Maradona ‘hand of god’ for messing up a game’s viewing pleasure if not the result. Remember Robin van Persie being sent off in the match between Arsenal and Barcelona which was called a bad joke. So was this. Like Darrel Hair unilaterally accusing Pakistan of ball tampering at the Oval in 2006. Bad move. Like this one.