Cricket, often regarded as ‘the gentleman’s game’, has been conjuring the images of a good-natured sporting contest on the village green. Those days are now long gone, and especially with the Twenty20 tournaments such as the Indian Premier League turning cricket into a major professional enterprise, the stakes are now even higher and egos have turned out to be bigger than they happened to be. And sometimes, those egos clash. Here is a list of 5 such ill-famed cricket fights –
Dennis Lillee vs. Javed Miandad, 1981– The Australians were running roughshots over a visiting Pakistan team at the WACA Ground in Perth in the chilling month of November, and, Dennis Lillee, Australia‘s strike bowler of the time being was bowling with the thought so that he could swagger into Javed Miandad‘s way as the Pakistan captain walked through for a run. Australia ultimately won the match with an ease, however the unsavoury incident between Lillee and Javed endured to such an extent that both tried to justify their behaviour in their autobiographies.
Glenn McGrath vs. Ramnaresh Sarwan, 2003 – If you ever mention my wife again, I’ll rip your throat out, this was something the umpire could hear when suddenly a stream of malfunction was sought out to be the result of the culmination of a gradually burning war of words between the veteran Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath and the veteran West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan. In short, Sarwan triumphed and McGrath lost his cool. After the match, which West Indies won with a world-record fourth innings chase, all parties were suitably calmedand the matter was dropped down to utmost pacifism. The players apologised to one another, McGrath publicly acknowledged an anger problem of sorts, and the Australian and West Indian captains praised their opponents. And Glenn McGrath, reportedly, carried on his wife Jane’s cancer awareness legacy by continuing to promote the McGrath Foundation after her death.
Colin Croft vs. Fred Goodall, 1980 – In the previous case of Dennis Lillee vs Javed Miandad incident, the umpire served as a peacemaker. But, when Colin Croft toured New Zealand with the West Indies in 1980, the umpire himself was found to be in the firing line. West Indies, at that time, were not having a good tour. They lost the first Test of the series in Dunedin on the back of what they perceived to be dubious umpiring. This led to one of the most famous photographs in cricket history as Michael Holding kicked down the stumps after umpire John Hastie failed to give John Parker out caught behind. The incident, which arguably could have seen Croft banned for his life, was left more or less unresolved and unpunished and he was let go. For his part, Goodall allegedly made offensive remarks about the West Indians at a series of speaking engagements around New Zealand shortly afterwards.
Mike Gatting vs. Shakoor Rana, 1987 – The Gatting-Shakoor conflict did not degenerate into physical violence, but the potency of their row and vigorous finger-wagging has made it the most notorious player-umpire fight in international cricket history. Gatting later regretted about his ill conduct, but when Rana flew to England in 2001 to reconcile with Gatting, he was rejected. It was evident now that even in the gentleman’s game, Cricket, some wounds don’t heal.
Harbhajan Singh vs. Andrew Symonds, 2008 – It is one of the extremely heinous incidences that could have happened in Cricket, if not in the day to day life. None, especially not in sporting contests, can condone racism. It doesn’t matter if it’s the crowd, a player, a coach, a team owner, an official, or a broadcaster who mouths off in a racist manner. There’s simply no excuse for it. It seems hard to believe. Barely a few months prior, Australia had undertaken an acrimonious tour of India during which Symonds was subjected to monkey chants by crowds in at least two venues. Harbhajan was one of several players who pledged to play the return series in Australia in the right spirit, despite ongoing tensions between the teams. But on day two, he let slip a remark heard by Symonds and other Australian players, and it sounded to many ears as if it had contained the word ‘monkey’. Ultimately, Harbhajan and Symonds harmonised during their time as teammates under the banner of the Indian Premier League franchisee, Mumbai Indians.