Well, maybe the success of the Dutch in the opening game of the World Twenty20 on Friday does not mark the start of a new era of domination of world cricket by the Netherlands, but what a great advert for the short game.
Hard hitting, great fielding, and a game that went right to the wire.
And the Dutch did not learn their skills in the 5-day test arena…
Still, it’s not really cricket…is it?
Are standards of behaviour in the club game slipping?
The League I play in certainly think so. For the 2009 season, they have introduced a football-style disciplinary system, with “yellow card” cautions and “red card” 8-day automatic suspensions and points deductions for more serious offences. This in addition to the regular disciplinary process.
After 5 rounds of matches (100 matches at 1st XI, where independent panel umpires are appointed), there have already been 3 red cards. It would be interesting to hear from a panel umpire whether this reflects better or worse behaviour than last season.
I don’t know the details of any of the offences, but I would not be surprised if they all relate to “abusive language / disparaging remarks to an umpire” – the umpire’s decision is no longer considered final, apparently.
This attitude seems to start early. I umpired a pick-up game at our Colts’ practice night, and almost every decision was debated.
Where does it come from? Probably not the First Class game, where open dissent at umpires decisions is (rightly) punished. Professional football? Popular culture?
Does it matter? Yes, as demonstrated in amateur football, where the numbers of referees continues to fall; yes, because when I finally stop playing, it is very unlikely that I (or, I expect, any of my contemporaries) would consider joining the League panel of umpires.
Competitive cricket without independent umpires? I don’t think the game would survive.
How attitudes have changed.
Two incidents from a game last weekend – one sledge, one health related.
The sledge was actually quite tame, by the standards of what often passes between teams these days, but it certainly wasn’t respectful of the opposition – the sort of thing that you might share with a batting partner, perhaps, but not for the whole fielding side to hear. But the “culprit” genuinely did not see that he had done anything wrong. He saw it not as disrespectful, rather a challenge – let’s see if you can stop me slapping the ball to all parts. And he saw nothing wrong with making that challenge verbally.
After the game, one of our other younger players was clearly non-plussed by the opposing team, many of whom spent the time waiting to bat smoking. The fact that one of the team was even smoking when he was scoring clearly caused even greater consternation! Clearly, for this young player, smoking at a cricket match was more shocking than any amount of sledging, humorous or abusive.