Conscience vs Laws

The Asian Age.  | Sashidhar Adivi

Sports, Cricket

However, the laws of cricket state that a ‘batsman is out only if the umpire rules him out’, in which case Pujara stands right.

Cheteshwar Pujara (Photo: AP)

While angry fans continue to mock cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara as a cheater after he did not walk out, experts opine that it was well within the rules of the game.

Cricket fans who have always been comparing Team India cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara with legendary former cricketer Rahul Dravid were a disappointed lot when they realised that Pujara did not walk off for a second time (after he edged one in the first innings too). While the incident occurred during the semi-final Ranji Trophy clash between Saurashtra and Karnataka a couple of days back, the bungle made by the umpire earned the ire of cricket fans everywhere.

Emotional and angry fans at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium chanted ‘Cheater, Cheater’ while cricket lovers started trolling the 31-year-old Test specialist. However, the laws of cricket state that a ‘batsman is out only if the umpire rules him out’, in which case Pujara stands right.  

Emotional and angry fans at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium chanted ‘Cheater, Cheater’ while cricket lovers started trolling the 31-year-old Test specialist. However, the laws of cricket state that a ‘batsman is out only if the umpire rules him out’, in which case Pujara stands right.

The incident once again brings up for debate the wafer-thin line between laws of the game and one’s character. Former umpire V. K. Ramaswamy, who officiated 26 Test matches and 43 ODIs says that there’s no law as to when a player should walk. However, he explains that the decision to walk out or not is purely an individual player’s choice.

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“According to rules and umpiring principles, there’s no law about when a player has to walk out and when not to. The player has every right to stand his ground till the decision is made by the umpire,” shares Ramaswamy.

International umpire M.N. Singh couldn’t have agreed more. He says that the benefit of the doubt has to go to the batsman if the evidence is not conclusive, but opines that Pujara has put his reputation at risk by not walking off.

“These situations happen often, but I never gave any batsman out until I was sure. Even the batsmen never walk unless they are given out. Umpires are not gods, so we give the decisions based on what we see and hear. We stay 25 yards away from the batsman, so it is difficult for us to hear given the crowd’s noise,” explains Singh.

He continues, “I know Pujara personally, and he’s a nice guy. Calling him a cheat is unfair, but he has only himself to blame. Given the technology that’s coming in, I think he should have walked off."

Commenting that Pujara has not done anything wrong, sports writer and columnist Ayaz Memon states that it’s time BCCI introduced the DRS system at the domestic level too. “The law clearly states that the appeal has to be made by the bowler to the umpire. So Pujara was waiting for the umpire’s decision, which is perfectly right,” says Ayaz, adding, “Since even the Ranji Trophy matches are drawing huge attention, I guess it’s time for BCCI to introduce DRS even in domestic cricket too.”

Interestingly, Former Indian Women’s cricket team coach, Captain Purnima Rau reveals that she always taught her players to walk if they nicked it. She further adds that she believes in the process and keeping up with the sportsman spirit rather than the result.

Says Purnima, “We appreciate and admire when players walk, it happened to me and I did walk away a few times. Again, it depends on a player’s conscience. Players like Gilchrist, Brian Lara, etc. have walked away.” She’s quick to add, “But you can’t call Pujara a cheat. I guess the crowd got carried away because he went on to make a century.”

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