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Zero tolerance to abuse, please

If the stakeholders of the game don’t learn from the James Anderson-Ravindra Jadeja fracas that resulted in both parties deemed non-guilty to everyone’s surprise, then all the time spent getting to the bottom of this ugly spat is a sheer waste.

The probe could not nail any of the hot-headed players because of lack of evidence and the words in Caribbean American singer Harry Belafonte’s song Mama Look a Boo Boo ring true in this case: “John says it’s James who started first; James tells the story in reverse.”

The on-field umpires need to get tougher and less tolerant when it comes to players abusing each other. The sporting field is not a church. It’s a tough and steamy place to be in, but competitive heat does not mean you are free to abuse your opponent. Indeed, it is mere abuse that leads to bigger confrontations. In some cases, that abuse is garnished by a racist comment.

In the text of his verdict, Judicial Commissioner Gordon Lewis clearly states that Anderson abused India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Umpire Bruce Oxenford is quoted in the verdict as saying, “I heard Anderson use foul and abusive language to Dhoni. In particular I heard Anderson say ‘you’re a f***ing fat c***’ to Dhoni”.

Oxenford, who to his credit, ordered Anderson to shut his mouth and get on with his job, did not think this was serious enough to report it to match referee David Boon despite, according to Lewis in the verdict, “it seems to have been in breach of article 2.1.4 in that it was language that was obscene, offensive and insulting.” Whether Davis agreed with Oxenford’s call or not, the umpire chose not to go by the book. In our opinion, he ought to have.

There is plenty of room for banter even to the point of, ‘you lucky so and so’, even stares, but there should be zero-tolerance to abuse. If players feel that their lips are being zipped, so be it because at the end of the day, it’s a gentleman’s game in which one is expected to play hard, but fair.

It’s time to go back to revisit some of the old values. The argument of these being changing times is lame.

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