Two headlines, with tenuous New Zealand links, have stirred the cricketing world in the past 24 hours. A highly contentious dismissal at the World U19s and the ECB’s announcement that Ben Stokes has been ‘cleared’ to tour NZ next month, Stokes first.
The story so far is well known. After the alleged affray in Bristol he was not picked for two subsequent ODIs vs. West Indies and then barred from touring Australia for the Ashes and the ODIs to follow. Somehow, amongst that he was permitted to travel to NZ and play a couple of pretty much no account T20s for Canterbury. All of this happened prior to any charges being laid.
He has now been charged with Affray and will get to answer the charge at a time yet to be specified. The ECB then announce he will tour NZ in February/March. So, he was prevented from playing when no charge had been laid and now that it has, he is free to play? Both odd and confusing, the UK cricketing media are going to have a field day with an ECB who seems at the very least to have things back to front.
Don’t we all love a controversial dismissal? Nothing fuels debate and outrage quite like it in cricketing circles. Again the details are already very well known. Full credit to the young West Indian side who plainly knew the rules. That credit is somewhat diminished by their application of them i.e. the appeal. Yes, it is in the rules but the action does not necessarily breach any nebulous spirit it is simply a case of poor sportsmanship.
On this occasion, being a U19 fixture, the West Indies coach/management should have become involved and offered advice and guidance. Maybe they did? This team has previous.
Leaving aside the outrage from South Africa, the only first class cricketer that I have observed on social media coming out in ‘support’ of the appeal was unsurprisingly an Australian, Mitch Johnson. Not that they are the sole arbiters of what happens on a cricket pitch but you get the impression it would not happen in senior professional cricket without repercussions. If it had happened in any club match I was involved in there would have been fighting.
The positives are that no batsman in any match or in any grade of cricket will ever pick the ball up again. Until there is a law change.
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