To walk or not to walk

Happy 2008 to all of you!! Feels good to start the New Year with some cricket.

A lot has been written and talked about the poor standard of umpiring in the ongoing 2nd test between India and Australia. There were at least 4 bad decisions during Australia’s innings – 3 going against India and 1 against the Aussies.

One was a very blatant out – the Symonds catch by Dhoni. Symonds accepted as much later – that he knew there was an edge.

Here comes the question – Should a batsman walk when he knows he is out? I can hear the standard arguments from both sides.

Not Walk –

  • One should not, because things will eventually even out and there have been instances when a batsmen has been wrongly given out
  • There is too much at stake – both monetarily and patriotically and it is hard for the batsmen to walk out

Walk –

  • It is a gentleman’s game highlighted by individuals such as Gundappa Viswanath who has always walked when he knew he was out. Glichrist is known to do the same today
  • Cricketers – fielder’s bowlers and batsmen owe it to the game to make the job of the umpire easier etc.

With all this there is a push for more use of technology available and options for captains to use a ‘challenge’ twice during an innings (like it is available in Amercian football today).

Given the high stakes of these matches, I am a fan of using technology and anytime an umpire has a doubt, he/she has to refer it to the 3rd umpire. The captain’s challenge can come above and beyond this. Note that even with this there is no guarantee that the 3rd umpire will get things right as noted by Symonds’s stumping decision – he was given not out when it seems like he was out (though I have to agree that the decision was extremely close). But we can eliminate a big chunk of the mistakes by leveraging technology. What is your opinion?

While watching the highlights on youtube, there was an interesting comment by Harsha Bhogle and it goes something like this – The Aussies and particularly Ponting expect the batsmen to trust the fielder when a catch is in doubt – i.e, if it is not clear if the fielder pouched the ball before a bounce on the turf. If Aussies expect batsmen to trust the fielder and take the fielder’s word at face value, should an Aussie batsmen also not walk off the field when he knows he is out? Is there a double standard? I believe there is. What do you think?



  1. Quote
    pk.karthik said January 4, 2008, 2:00 am:

    Interesting Ganesh..but i feel that walking and not walking depends on lot of other factors to…
    Now Gilchrist can afford to walk as Australia has been wining consistently and even if they lose on match due to his walsking it will not affect his stand in the team or media or the public….
    But what happens if Dravid walks when he doing a good job and knowing the indian team if there is collapse he will castrated by all….
    I mean what is treated as sportsmanship for Glchirst becomes lack of commitment for Dravid…
    Again as far is Ponting is concerned …i guess we need to give him the benefit of Doubt about the his opinion” of batsmen trusting fielders” as he did call back Dravi when he felt he was not confident of the Catch…

    Again about walking ..i agree with u as so much at stake and lots of money invloved and more the Batsman stays at the Crease ……the more money he makes…..

  2. Quote
    Ganesh Vaideeswaran said January 4, 2008, 2:25 am:


    Thanks for your comments.

    Here is my issue with Ponting – It seems like he wants to set the rules about sportsmanship in cricket. Just because, he is a “trusting” fielder, he expects the same from other teams too.

    Now, if a batsmen from another country walks off when he knows he is out and expects the same from the Aussies, would Ponting do the same and instruct his team to do the same? I doubt it.

    So, to me it seems like Ponting wants to dictate how the game should be played and I do not agree with that.

    Leverage modern technology available to eliminate all guess work – especially when the game has become so important from a monetary perspective. In essence, you have handed over a person’s livelihood in the hands of the umpires – which was OK in days bygone, but not in this era of technology.


  3. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said January 4, 2008, 6:54 am:

    Interesting post. I think the era of Vishwanath, Courtney Walsh-type gentleman’s play is over. Today’s cricket is a money-making business and we have to treat it accordingly. Australian team is the epitome of gamesmanship with their sledging and other psychological tactics. I’d dismiss any pontifications from Ponting and any Australian team member on this subject.

    As you said, I don’t know why we are not making use of technology more. We should use technology more effectively and eliminate umpire errors to the extent possible. I also liked the challenge concept from Football that you pointed out. We should introduce it also.

    In short, throwaway the gentleman’s game attitude about cricket and treat it as a modern game that is in the entertainment business.

  4. Quote

    Nice post, Ganesh. In my opinion, batsmen shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than rest of the players. If it is okay for bowlers and fielders to try their luck with the umpires by appealing when, in most cases, they know it is ‘not out’, batsmen should not be expected to ‘walk’. It should be a gentleman’s game for all, not just for those wielding the bat.

  5. Quote
    Ganesh Vaideeswaran said January 4, 2008, 4:00 pm:

    Thanks Sukumar. “pontifications from Ponting” – I like it!!


  6. Quote
    pk.karthik said January 6, 2008, 12:11 pm:

    I take back my argument…u r right 🙂

  7. Quote
    Ramesh Ramaswamy said January 6, 2008, 6:32 pm:


    Interesting post. I think not walking is not cheating. In a game winning matters (within the laws defined). There is no law that player has to walk. There was an article in asking why are we asking players to do umpires job. True, if umpires are in doubt they can use technology/3rd umpire. Challenge will also be good.

    Though fan of Australian cricket, I would not defend Ponting! Umpire needs to do his job. He can ask the fielder but it is upto make a “fair” decision by consulting sqaure leg umpire or 3rd umpire. For example….Sourav’s decision in 2nd innings was absurd – giving out after pointing declaring out.

    BTW, with all these umpring controversies in 2nd test…do you think India would have won/drawn the 2nd test! Let us be honest…Indians don’t have character to play in fast and bouncy pitch. I think irrespective of these bad umpring India would have lost. Now we have a reason for losing! Australians are champions in all forms of this game. Go Aussies!! 4-0!!!


  8. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said January 6, 2008, 10:03 pm:

    Thanks Ganesh.

  9. Quote
    Ganesh Vaideeswaran said January 6, 2008, 10:31 pm:


    Honestly – yes – I think we would have drawn the test. Do not forget that we did take the lead in the first innings. Dravid was also doing the ‘wall’ thing that he does well when he was atrociously given out in the 2nd innings. If at least one of the decisions between Dravid and Ganguly had gone India’s way, I do believe that we would have drawn the test.

    I agree that the Aussies are the best cricket team by a lo….ng shot, but India did manage to take a first innings lead which could have been a lot more if Symonds had been given out to either the catch or the stumping in the first innings.

    I do hope that the umpires are held accountable and ICC takes steps to improve the umpiring standards.

    I am also keen to get all the details regarding Harbhajan’s ban – Was it just Aussies words against the Indians. I am hoping that it was more than that and was based on evidence/data.


  10. Quote

    Cricket is no more a gentleman’s game and is totally commercialised. Everything around cricket is money. I dont think there is no need to walk out. If the players can fix games with bookies, why not the umpires? Let them also make some money. There is an adage in tamil “aathula pora thanni ayya kudikkalam amma kudikkalam” (roughly translates into: the water in the stream is common to all, anybody can drink) I’d say, lets watch the game as it is played and umpired. It is not going to affect our everyday life in anyway. There were some demonstrations against the umpiring and effigies being burnt. I dont know how people find time to do all these in a developing country like India. If everybody is employed and have things at hand to work on, nobody will turn to TVs to watch cricket for the whole of the day. May be I’m sounding bitter and harsh….apologies if I’m offending anybody’s sentiments.

  11. Quote

    Corrigendum: My above comment should read “There is no need to walk out”.

  12. Quote

    Professional cricket is no gentlemanly place. If the opponent team makes mockery when they win, we should remove shirt and wave. That entertains the masses and brings more passion into the game. Cricket is no game of elite. It is a sport that has millions of $s involved and the place in the team is always threatened. Humanly thinking, I dont expect the players to walk off. But Umpiring on the other hand is supposed to use the best of judgment supported by technology to give correct decisions. I would find fault there in the 2nd test.

  13. Quote
    Ramesh Ramaswamy said January 7, 2008, 9:03 am:

    Harbhajan banned for three Tests; India to appeal;Tour suspended;

    On the lighter side, this reminds me when I was in school, we played against a team. Other team captain was blasting us all over the field. He scored, I think, 100 odd runs..still going strong. There was an appeal that was denied. So, we used that opportunity to call off the match saying it was not fair 🙂 🙂

    I don’t know if there was racial abuse. But I think this was unwarranted. Calling a fielder from the boundary and talking whatever! Bhajji should have focussed on the game.

  14. Quote
    sridhar said January 7, 2008, 9:56 am:

    In addition to the ” To walk or not to walk “ dilemma, the Sydney test has thrown up another big question – “To Talk or not to Talk “. And to refine it even further ” when to Talk and when not to Talk “.

    The Aussies have created history by becoming the first ever team to complain (whine) to a match referee against an opposition player for a sledge, allegedly racist. What is most ironical, even comical, is that the team that always had its mouth full, is now whining the loudest. Imagine a 6 feet 4 inch, 100kg, class bully complaining to the teacher, that a puny third grader was pinching him!!! And worse still , imagine the teacher punishing the third grader for a gentle tweak. It just amazes me that , Mike Proctor banned Harbhajan on such flimsy evidence. The match referee proved that racism was alive and well !!! Just as being a hypocrite was cool and fashionable

    Australia are known to be a team that take the rough with the smooth, the ones who have the reputation of being ready for a scrap and who take their blows on their chin. And yet we witnessed the pathetic sight of “heroes” degenerating to ” sissy tell tales”. What ever happened to that famous Australian spirit of “what happens on the field stays there”? Where has the back slapping , beer drinking , off- the- field camaraderie gone ? Surely, the Australians can think of a better way to counter a bowler who has scalped their captain 6 times in a row.

    Grow up mates!! Behave like world champions !!

  15. Quote
    Ganesh Vaideeswaran said January 7, 2008, 9:59 am:


    I agree with you that cricket is just a game and that too this is just one game and we do not have to get all worked up via demonstration and effigy burning. There is absolutely no reason to give so much importance to a game/match. As Sukumar has said, this is just entertainment and treat it as such.

    I am hoping that some good comes out of this bad situation – taking better advantage of technology, improving umpiring standards, coming to judgments on contentious situations based on evidence than hearsay.

    And yes, I do agree that if people had real work to do, they would not have the time to spend on such destructive endeavors. Are you extrapolating it to say that test/one day cricket is a waste of time? Or am I misreading you?


    Yes. I agree that Harbhajan should have concentrated on the game than gamesmanship. Your school incident – funny!! And, calling off the tour is a bad idea.


  16. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said January 7, 2008, 10:46 am:

    Well said Sridhar. Ponting has sunk Australian cricket to a new low.

  17. Quote
    Ganesh Vaideeswaran said January 7, 2008, 11:51 am:


    Very well articulated. The bully complaining to the teacher is a very good analogy.

    And yes, it does make you suspect if there was any racism involved in Mike Procter’s decision – though I will give him the benefit of doubt. What I would like to see is a concrete report from Procter with reasons behind the judgment he made. I am hoping that it is evidence based rather than Aussies words against the Indians.

    Are these reports published?


  18. Quote
    Ganesh Vaideeswaran said January 7, 2008, 3:26 pm:

    This photo in cricinfo really bothered me. Look at the kids watching the adults carry the effigy. Is this the kind of example that we want to set for our youngsters?

    I believe that we as Indians need to get a perspective on various matters – cricket being the top one.


  19. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said January 7, 2008, 10:15 pm:

    Good point Ganesh. I doubt if we really have the perspective on many things cricket being one. Theaters get burnt down for showing certain movies, books get burnt and heck, government buses and trains get burnt because people don’t realize that government property is their own property.

  20. Quote
    Priya Raju said January 7, 2008, 10:24 pm:

    Ganesh – Interesting question. Ponting is a mad & mangy dog. He is very talented yes, but he has also infected his entire team with rabies. I used to respect the Aussie team even 1 year back. Now, I just flush down what they say in the toilet.

    I’m not that bothered about bad decisions by umpires. 1 or 2 mistakes will happen. Though in this case, there are far too many mistakes in Australia’s favor. As you say, we should use technology to avoid mistakes. And to prevent match-fixing by umpires, their controversial decisions should be monitored. Teams can appeal decisions, but the umpire’s decision is final.

    What bothers me more is – what I feel – the trumped-up charge against Bhajji. Ponting the batsman can’t handle Harbhajan’s bowling. And Symonds complains of racism. If indeed Bhajji made racist remarks, he should be taken to task. But, I – along with most of the viewers of cricket – find it difficult to trust the Aussies. They’ll do anything to win – revenge, harassment & other mind games are in their play book.

    We should stop playing with the Aussies for the time-being.

  21. Quote

    @Ganesh: You are right. I’m not against these one dayers and 20/20s watched. They are good entertainment and just that. Nothing more nothing less. No one watches hockey or football so enthusiatically and bothers to criticise the decisions by the referees. In the last tournament in Malaysia, there were 3 corners that went against India. Not a single soul raised the voice.

Leave a Comment



Formatting Your Comment

The following XHTML tags are available for use:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

URLs are automatically converted to hyperlinks.