2017 saw a lot of controversies being played out on and off the field of cricket. Since the 1970s, the sport was largely spared from rifts, controversies and fights. Though such sporting news enthrals viewers and fans, it threatens to put a permanent blotch on the gentleman’s game itself. Fortunately, cricket has been spared from being affected and emerged spotless from the verbal spills.
This year we saw a number of controversies rocking the gentleman’s game. Let us start with the biggest cricketing controversy that marred the sport in 2017:
The mother of all cricket controversies involved the then coach Anil Kumble and Indian captain Virat Kohli. The reports of a rift between the duo started coming in when BCCI invited applications for coach of Team India just days before the Champions Trophy. However, Virat Kohli prioritized the play and rubbished the reports as mere rumours.
India emerged second best to Pakistan in the tournament after which Kumble was retained as the head coach for the West Indies tour even though his contract had expired. A day after the team left for the tour, Kumble put in his resignation saying his partnership with the captain had become untenable.
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/eF5qVzdBRj
— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) June 20, 2017
Thereafter, Kohli said he respected Kumble’s decision, however, refused to reveal what transpired behind closed doors. According to an Indian Express report, Virat Kohli and a few other Indian players felt that Kumble was overbearing.
Steven Smith ‘Brainfade’? You must be playing the giddy-goat!
It was Day 4 of the second Test at Bengaluru against Australia. Steve Smith was at the striker’s end facing Umesh Yadav. One of Yadav’s deliveries trapped Smith in front of his stumps and the umpire adjudicated that as out. Smith turned towards the pavilion to ascertain whether he should review the decision or not.
Smith looking for suggestions from the dressing room during the match irked Virat Kohli. Smith, in his press conference after the day’s play, excused it to be a moment of ‘brainfade’ on his part, however, it did not go down well with Virat who later just fell short of calling his Australian counterpart a cheater.
Here is the Australian captain accepting the goof-up he made:
Virat Kohli’s counter:
Anurag Thakur’s ouster as BCCI President:
Earlier in the year, the apex court sacked Anurag Thakur, who was the then BCCI President, from his portfolio because he, along with secretary Ajay Shirke, didn’t implement the full Lodha Committee recommendations regarding the working of the BCCI.
A four-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) was set up to run the BCCI.
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) January 2, 2017
Ramachandra Guha’s resignation & his explosive letter to CoA chief Vinod Rai:
Cricket historian Ramachandran Guha, in an explosive resignation letter to the CoA, highlighted the problems of parity within Indian cricket. In his letter, he threw light on the existing ‘superstar culture’ in Indian cricket and said bias towards certain national players.
In his letter, Guha suggested that MS Dhoni shouldn’t be given an ‘A’ contract since he plays only the shorter formats of the game. Furthermore, Guha lashed out at Rahul Dravid by stating that the coaching staff of the Indian (senior and junior) team shouldn’t have a contract with IPL teams as it was contrary to the spirit of the Lodha Committee recommendations.
Guha’s resignation had a notable impact as former India captain Rahul Dravid resigned as Delhi Daredevils’ mentor. Guha did not spare CAB President Sourav Ganguly as well, stating that a person cannot be a commentator and a president of a state association at the same time.
The Stokes Saga:
This was another big sporting news that made headlines, especially because it involved England’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes, and then the timing of the event, just prior to Ashes. Ben Stokes was spotted punching a stranger in a 15-minute video, just outside a Bristol bar. The incident came to light instantly and then he had to be taken to jail. Due to this incident, he had to miss out on the ‘mother of all battles’, the Ashes.
Australia has thrashed England 3-0 to regain the Ashes Urn. And the impact is glaring.
Smog plays spoilsport in Delhi Test:
During the 3rd Test between India and Sri Lanka in Delhi, dense smog halted the play for 17 minutes while India was batting and the visitors were fielding. The Indian captain Virat Kohli was batting on an unbeaten 241 when the episode took place. The smog was so dense and irritating that the visiting team players had to resort to wearing masks. Though the incident raised pertinent questions over the capital’s environmental crisis, India eventually won the Test and the series.
Pitch-Fixing? Yes, it exists!
Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium’s pitch curator Pandurang Salgaoncar was seen giving inside information to reporters disguised as bookies in a sting operation done by India Today. He admitted on camera that pitches can be bought for a price. This incident came to light just hours before the 2nd ODI between India and New Zealand took the cricketing world by storm.
Good old ball tampering! Mr Shanaka it’s not an apple…
Sri Lankan pacer Danusha Shanaka was caught on camera tampering the cricket ball in the 50th over against India on Day 2 of the 2nd Test at Nagpur. He was nibbling around the seam of the bowl. Shanaka was fined 75 percent of his match fee and was found to have breached Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “changing the condition of the ball in breach of clause 41.3.”
Since it was invented, cricket is always played as a gentleman’s game, however, as the years pass by, the gentlemanliness and sportsman spirit is gradually disappearing as is the case with other sports. Is it because of specialization of skill sets or increased competitiveness? Only time will tell.