Walking in cricket means that you walk off the field when you know you are out, whether the umpire gives you out or not. Adam Gilchrist is a recent modern day player that was well known for walking. It was easy for him as he more often than not played well and made a good score. It must be harder for other players who are struggling to keep their place in the team, who do not want to give away their wicket unless the umpire says so. The umpires make wrong decisions sometimes, giving players out when they are not, and not giving them out when they are. Over time you would expect that this would even out, and this is one argument of some players who chose not to walk. The players need an incentive to do the right thing and walk when they think they are out. How about an annual prize for the best ‘walker’, based on point every time a player walks before being given out by the umpire, and extra credits when they walk and are subsequently found to be not out by the replays!
It is becoming popular for sporting fans to get together and fly around the world to support their team. Why pay so much when you can do it yourself for much cheaper? There is a big market for these tour groups and people pay way too much for the privilege. People pay thousands of dollars to join a cricket tour of India, where you can get by on as little as $10 a day. However, I admit that you do get plenty of extras from joining such a group, for example meeting some of the sports stars, getting priority entry, and good seats organised/guaranteed. You also don’t have to buy your own travel tickets and organise hotels. It is fun either way you go, but if you want to save money and make it an adventure, then do it yourself. I may even come along and do the self-guided tour with you! Careful, if you get too many of our mates together and it will become one of those tours you are trying to avoid!
Cricket has joined some other sports to now have at Test level an umpire referral system. It was first trialed in 2008 (in a Test series between Sri Lanka and India). Unlike in tennis where the challenge and referral decision is clear cut using hawke-eye technology, the cricket referral is adjudicated by another umpire and is open to further errors. The actual way it works may change and develop, but when it was first brought in this is how it worked.
Players are allowed to challenge decisions made by the on-field umpires and have them referred to the TV official. For each innings of the Test, each team can challenge any decisions, though they will be limited to three unsuccessful challenges per innings. Only the batsman on the receiving end of the umpire’s original decision or the captain of the fielding side can appeal by making a “T” sign with both forearms at shoulder height. The third umpire uses the technology of the hot spot and slow motion replays at different angles to gain information and make decisions.
It all sounds great for the players and viewers at home, but the pressure is on the umpires. In reality, the process takes too long and can distract from the game. When there are challenges left near the end of an innings, players tend to make frivolous challenges on the off chance of getting a decision overturned. So there are still problems that need to be ironed out, but a great step forward for cricket.
My wife and I went to watch Australia versus England in the first one-day match of the current series, played at the MCG. We thought we were lucky to find some of the last remaining seats amongst the crowd on the bottom level, hoping to enjoy a few rays of sunshine. Mistakenly, we had sat in the old Bay 13 section, where all rowdy supporters are seated. The first thing we noticed was a large security and police presence. On the scoreboard, they listed unacceptable behaviour, but I did not read it as it was such a long list! I soon found out some of what was on the list, as people around us, one by one, were kicked out of the ground for breaking the rules.
One of the biggest problems was throwing beach balls. At first, I thought that they were being a bit heavy-handed – what damage can a beach ball do? After my wife was covered with spilled beer and such five times from guys jumping up to hit the balls, I joined the anti-beach ball club. We also saw around us people who had brought in alcohol, were smoking, and even one guy threw a tennis ball at a player fielding on the boundary, hitting him in the back. All these people were promptly sent home. To finish it off, in the last overs someone ran onto the field, not quite with all his gear off, and would have found himself given a $6000 fine. An expensive day at the cricket. All-in-all we heard that over 100 people were ejected from the stadium. What about the cricket? Well, after the break we moved to the quieter upper level, and were actually able to watch some of the game. Australia won as expected.
My wife and I went traveling in India at the end of last year. Once anyone found out that we were from Australia, they all wanted to talk cricket with us. We decided to take an informal poll with the people we met, about who was their favorite Australian cricketers. The most popular Australian (ex) player we talked about was Greg Chappel, as he was coaching the Indian national side. Out of the current team, a favorite was Steve Waugh, which was not surprising considering the work he does in India. Other top players were Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting.