An unappealing habit
Look, anybody who a) knows me, or b) reads my self-indulgent ramblings on here will know I am a grumpy old (ish, let’s not get carried away) man. I had a lot of cricket to play this weekend because of early season fixture congestion, and three fairly resounding defeats in two days doesn’t do a lot to counter this grumpiness, fun as most of it was. Well, parts of it.
I certainly have no complaints about any of the losses – we were beaten, easily, fair and square.
Obviously though, I am here to have a moan about something. That’s as telegraphed as my quicker ball.
I want to talk about appealing. I want to talk about appealing when the person appealing knows that the appeal is nonsense. I want to talk about appealing when the person shrieking hysterically is fielding at cow corner, especially when they follow this with a loud, boorish, vocal complaint when the appeal is rightly dismissed. I want to talk about an appeal that is a seething, aggressive attempt to intimidate an umpire when the ball wouldn’t have hit a seventh stump.
And I want to make it clear here – this is something that affects all clubs. I am not suggesting that we at Bagenalstown are insulated from this.
We can euphemise it, and we do. We can call it being “competitive”. Or “spirited”. Maybe “enthusiastic”.
Call it what you like. It’s cheating.
I was told, this weekend, when perhaps (okay, definitely) being too vociferous and too quick about complaining about this type of appealing (like I said, grumpy old (ish) man), that players are completely entitled to appeal whenever they feel like it. In fact, the concept of excessive appealing was obviously one that was utterly alien to the protagonists in the exchange. The onus, I was told, was on the umpire to turn down the appeal, not on the fielding team to reel themselves in. Apparently, a seething, in your face spittle-laced appeal to a ball missing the leg stump by eight inches is perfectly acceptable, and what’s my problem?
Psychologically, of course, it is deeply flawed. To start with, the umpire will get annoyed, if not insulted, and seeds of doubt will be sowed when the appeal isn’t an insult to the concept of the spirit of cricket.
I know that the LCU are trying to get on top of stuff like this. Don’t take my word for it, have a peek at this:
I play in the lower reaches of the LCU, which means that having appointed umpires is a luxury. I absolutely understand why this is happening, and I know how hard Mr Thew et all work to spread their limited personnel around; it is what it is. Because of this, I don’t know how much of an issue this is elsewhere. I don’t know how appointed umpires deal with it, or indeed if they do.
I do know that it makes for an unpleasant, intimidating and nasty atmosphere, and I hate it. A game that is supposed to be gentlemanly is transformed into something else entirely, and some teams seem to like it that way. More then that, they seem to thrive on it.
I’m no-one in particular. I am just a modest cricketer who wants to squeeze out as many years as possible before the inevitable career ending injury. I want to win games, and I want to add to the medal tally I have been fortunate enough to amass in the five years I have been with Bagenalstown, but, most of all I want to enjoy the cricket that I play.
Am I swimming against the tide? There’s no simple solution here, especially when we don’t have enough official umpires to go around. But trust me: the message about the spirit of cricket and what that means is not getting through as it should.