One of the Best Articles from a Colombo Newspaper.
Barking up the wrong tree?
Saturday, 12 May 2007 - 6:02 AM SL Time
Throughout their World Cup campaign one thing stood out about the
Sri Lankan captain. It was Jayawardene`s magnanimity, decency and
sense of proportion; an extension of his sportsmanship. Even after
the final defeat, the captain never whinged: no sour grapes, no
excuses, no passing the blame on the weather, poor umpiring or
squash balls for his side`s defeat. Instead he admitted the better
side won. That`s all.
There is a lesson in it for all of us. Firstly, to accept defeat
with grace. To accept that the better side won the match. To accept
that an incredible innings was played that day, the likes of which
we shall probably never see again. And if we are trying to put it
all down to a squash ball in a glove, then, let us at least be aware
not to appear churlish whilst we set about doing so. Petulance can
have its limits.
?No dinner invitations or Christmas cards!
I am quite certain I will definitely be in the minority sharing such
views. Probably in some quarters I will even be open to ridicule.
But a critic of the game cannot sidestep issues and worse, side with
the majority fearing popular sentiment that may be at variance with
his own thinking. So swimming against the current it has to be, if
one`s conscience does not allow otherwise. With all due respect to
all who have written so strongly on the subject, I wish to present a
line of thought which is not likely to earn me invitations to dinner
or even receive the odd card at Christmas. Never mind!
?Prefer reliance on objective than subjective thinking.
Logic in these matters often helps. And logic tells me that a squash
ball given the location shown in the pictures and allegedly used for
the purpose of propelling a hit a long way will not serve the
purpose. Certainly not in the manner thought out by most of those
who have rushed so hastily to pour out their venom in print.
?What an encumberance!
Just a minute. Before you go on the boil I ask you to go back to
your days of wielding a bat. The main consideration about a grip is
how relaxed or comfortable you are when doing so. Having a ball
stuck in your palm, squash or otherwise and embracing the bat handle
whilst embracing the squash ball as well, would be a pretty tall
order for anyone willing to try it out. In other words, if the
bottom hand were to go round the handle of the bat as well as
embrace most of the squash ball`s circumference as well, it will
result in a very insecure grip of the bat with the bottom hand to
say the least. Not the sort that would help Gilchrist deposit
Chaminda Vaas 15 rows into the stand beyond long-on.
?The purpose was to make him change the grip and not hit longer.
We have learnt that the purpose was to help Gilchrist towards an
orthodox grip; to prevent his bottom hand from tending to rotate too
much towards the back of the bat as was his wont. If a close study
of pictures of the ball`s location is made, it would be noticed that
it was directly beneath the base of his middle and ring fingers.
That would leave a pathway clear in the rest of his palm to allow
the bat handle to pass which would lend towards a far greater
orthodoxy in Gilchrist`s grip. So it appears the ball was there to
make him change his grip and not help him hit longer. If that is a
load of bunkum, all our local heroes should emulate Gilchrist,
supplant balls inside their gloves and start hitting balls into the
?The positioning is vital to the argument.
The positioning of the squash ball is vital to the argument. Had it
been anywhere else than where it was, at least the hysteria would
have some basis. Now it hasn`t, because by securing the squash ball
where it was, all what Gilchrist achieved was a more orthodox grip
by searching for a comfort zone in the remainder of his bottom palm.
He achieved that by turning his bottom hand more towards the front
or the face of the bat, automatically. If Gilchrist`s previous grip
resulted in uppish sliced shots towards third man and backward point
area, the new grip saw them off. So the squash ball served to
prevent the bottom hand rotating towards the back of the bat through
the creation of discomfort beyond a certain point. Gilchrist might
have achieved the same effect had he discarded the squash ball and
stuffed any other spherical object instead, to serve the same
purpose. The purpose was to create a `stop` and relocate the hands
on the handle towards orthodoxy, rather than gain the alleged
?Surely, not that dumb?
If gaining an unfair advantage was the motive, Gilchrist would also
have been extremely foolish if not naiive in making a public
exhibition of the fact that he carried a squash ball in his palm by
repeatedly pointing to it in full view of millions of viewers. At
least lets give it to him, he isn`t that dumb.
?What about heavy bats and all protective gear?
All protective equipment and strappings which sportsmen wear are in
one way or another, performance enhancing. Be they chest pads,
helmets, thigh pads, arm guards or a varied assortment of batting
glove designs, and what went into them. All sorts of designs and
fortifications have been introduced in the wake of players demanding
greater safety for their fingers. But still no one has queried
either those, or the obvious unfairness of the use of heavier bats
by some, or even the widespread acceptance of protective equipment
for close in fielders. The use of a box, shin guards, chest guards
and helmets can be said gives the fielder an unfair advantage in
that it allows them to stand intimidatingly close to the batsman
which they would never do, otherwise.
?In the end it is just how good you are in what you do.
Despite all the hullabaloo, at the end of the day what matters is
how good you are at what you do. No amount of stuffing gloves with
whatever the balls - tennis, golf, squash or even sheep`s testicles
? will matter. If a batsman simply cannot bat, he wont make runs
despite all the balls. Similarly whatever a bowler may do ? in
eschewing more comfortable boots, taping of ankles and shoulders or
eating bananas for more energy - if he cannot bowl properly, he wont
take wickets. Similarly, should coaches be banned along with
technology, gear improvement and healthy diets, simply because it
may gives some teams which could afford them greater advantage over
?Response from the custodians of the Laws.
The MCC being the custodians of the Laws made a recent clarification
on the issue, and the ICC forwarded it to a local `Blog.` The Law
they said, only specifies what external and visible protective
equipment is permitted. Such as helmets, pads, batting gloves and
forearm guards. None of them ? barring wicket-keeping gloves - carry
any definition or prescription to design or size. Since there is no
restriction in Law even on the external form of batting gloves let
alone their interior, no Law they say, has been breached in this
The MCC have recognized that players, mostly batsmen, wear other
items for their protection, but since they are not visible and
therefore not external. Therefore no objection is raised. Had such
items as chest protectors or even helmets been banned, the
authorities could be held responsible in the event of serious injury
or death occurring as a result. The MCC has also recognized that the
squash ball was not for protection from injury, but to improve the
way the batsman gripped the bat handle. They saw the squash ball no
less fair than the widespread practice of having two or three grips
on the bat handle - to which no objection, official or unofficial,
has ever been raised. They were both used to improve the grip. In
conclusion they have indicated that the incident could not be
classed either as contravening the Law or as breaching the Spirit of
?Missing the most valid point.
I believe the majority who have rushed to ink their thoughts have
missed a valid point. It is that Gilchrist`s bottom hand did not
encompass the squash ball as well as the bat whilst gripping the
bat. Instead, the squash ball merely shifted the location of his
bottom hand on the handle, towards an orthodox grip. Possibly it
lightened his grip more than tighten it. And it certainly stopped
his bottom hand from moving back around the bat. So if the grip was
improved as a result, it was no different to a batsman having two or
three grips on his handle to achieve the same purpose.
?Looking at the positives than dwelling on the negatives.
All good men everywhere, may want to slow down on the hysteria and
avoid stirring up needless conflict. Particularly in areas which can
show us up in the worst possible light. Instead it may be a great
idea that the entire nation rejoices in the fact that the team did
well enough to reach the final. That was a tremendous achievement in
any language. Far better fancied teams couldn`t go that far.
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