Alastair Cook was cruising to another double, and inflicting serious injury to the Indian bowlers. What could India do to get the man out who had scored more than 500 runs in the last three matches? Throw the kitchen sink at him, or ask for some generosity from the visiting captain?
Well, Captain Cook obliged.
Kevin Pietersen flicked to the leg side, and nonchalantly refused to run. Cook, down the pitch at the non-striker’s end, turned back to regain his crease; the throw from Virat Kohli was coming straight towards him and, like a thorough gentleman, the captain moved himself and his bat out of the way to see his castle shattered and the umpire rule him out. Was it sheer lack of presence of mind? Or was it just sheer bad luck?
Letting the ball go by evading it, and seeing it crash into the stumps is not just poor Cook’s misery. Two Pakistani batsmen had such similar woeful experiences. In the Faisalabad Test of the Pakistan-England series in the 2005-06 season, 2006 series, Inzamam-ul-Haq was in imperious form, and making the English bowlers toil.
A hundred done, Inzi looked to move on towards a double. Harmless Steve Harmison was bowling his heart out with little luck against Inzi, when all that changed in a bizarre manner. Inzi patted a delivery back to Harmison and found the ball flying back at him. Steve Harmison in a strange fit threw the ball back towards the batsman’s stumps and Inzi hopped up to get out of the way. Crassssh! The red cherry hit the leg stump and Inzi was caught on the wrong foot — ooops, no foot at all — behind the crease. While he moved out of the way his back foot was off the ground, the umpire’s finger went up and Inzamam was gone for 109.
Another Pakistani to “evade and go” was Misbah-ul-Haq (strange that both the Pakistani batmen have similar names). Misbah was in full control in New Delhi where India played Pakistan in the 2007 Test series. On a balmy November day, Misbah was on 82 and cruising towards a hundred, and helping stabilise the Pakistani innings when he gently pushed to point and hared off for a single. Dinesh Karthik swooped down and flicked the ball towards the non-striker’s end. Misbah, running towards the same end, saw the ball coming at him. He jumped to evade the ball. Crassssh! The stumps shattered while Misbah was still in mid-air.
Gentlemanly behaviour, chivalry and ‘by your leave’ are definitely part of the game in white flannels, but from school days to Test matches, batsmen have always been tutored to “come in the way” when fielder’s throw the ball at the stumps. Seems the best laid plans and lessons goes awry when the survival instinct actually leads to death...at the crease. No evading this, is it?
—The writer is founder and managing director Creatigies Communications, and an avid cricket nut. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org