If you're not cheating, you're not trying
"If you're not cheating you're not trying." This was a familiar war cry during warm-up games in my time with the NZ cricket team. If you weren't pushing the boundaries you weren't giving it your all; you weren't thinking on how to get an advantage; bending, pushing and breaking rules to win. There is no other option. We all do it. You ever been The Bank in Monopoly and not thought about sneaking a couple of $100s or a $500 into your pile of cash? Really? You ever drive over the speed limit?
How many trusted accountants, lawyers (The Firm), doctors, police even, respected pillars of our community are in jail for breaking our trust, stealing our money, or being despicable.
Why do we expect sportsmen to uphold the rules or laws of the game when in society we can’t do it ourselves?
We have to remember about sports men that it’s business. It’s cutthroat. It’s called an entertainment industry now. Players are out there to entertain, and to win, but win first. Players get dropped, careers ended. Officials get dropped, careers get put on hold.
It’s the official’s job to make sure the right call is made. In baseball if a fieldsman claims a catch that bounces it is the umpire’s bad call if the batsman is called out. It’s not up to the player to he honest. He is playing to win.
Andy Haden, an All Black rugby legend, once "dived", claiming to be pushed, from a line-out against Wales in 1978. NZ gained a penalty and won with the subsequent kick (incidentally kicked by NZ Cricketer Brian McKechnie, the man who went on to face the "underarm delivery"). Haden told the BBC less than six months ago, "It was the only way to be able to conjure up a victory."
"… I've lived with it and I don't regret it because that's what you do for your team - you do whatever comes into your mind at the time."
"You don't go back to your dressing shed seat after the match is over and say 'oh, I wish I'd done this or I wish I'd done that'."
Remember Maradona, the 1986 World Cup Quarter Final – how could we forget "the Hand of God", he summed it up by saying, "It was like pick-pocketing the English and stealing a win."
These people know they've done wrong. I've pinched money from The Bank in Monopoly, I've appealed for LBWs with a feeling the batsman has hit it, and caught behinds knowing they hadn't. I have no problems with batsmen, in cricket, not walking and bowlers appealing when they know otherwise. It’s the game inside the game. It’s what gets our passions going. It is what gets us talking, communicating. That’s a good thing right. Men (not just men) discussing our feelings, our opinions. Agreeing to disagree. The art of conversation.
How do you police the cheating though? Denesh Ramdin was banned for two games and fined 50 per cent of his match fee for not fronting up and saying he dropped a catch during the 2013 Champions Trophy. He also didn't claim the catch and only rolled the ball to the umpire once the decision was made and the ball was therefore dead. His actions were cited to be against the "Spirit of Cricket" where the game should be played "with it’s traditional ‘spirit’". One of the earliest cheats was WG Grace. Gambling was rife and many of the Laws were introduced to settle arguments and to create a level playing field.
"…cricketers, right across the world, are increasingly aware that they should not merely obey the game's Laws but safeguard its Spirit." (http://www.lords.org/mcc/mcc-spirit-of-cricket/)
Does that mean you don’t do everything in your control to win? Does that mean that Stuart Broad should get a similar ban as precedence has been set by the Ramdin incident? I don’t want to see Broad banned, before you go there, but what is this "Spirit of Cricket" and how can its application be consistent, as that’s all we want.
Is cricket the last bastion of ‘good manners’ and ‘good grace’ left in this sporting world and is that why there is so much of an out cry over the Broad ‘non’ dismissal.
Cyclist are dirty (not all), sprinters are testing positive, Spain fielded "perfectly normal" athletes in the in the 2000 Paralympics basketball team and also in table tennis, track and field and swimming events. How about skipping part of a race like Rosie Ruiz did in 1980 to win the Boston Marathon in a record time? Footballers diving? Rugby players with fake blood?
While the drive to win is ravenous, it may only be a player’s legacy that is affected if they bend, push, break the rules or cheat. I believe in retrospective action if umpires or referees have missed something in play. Bans and fines dished out to players depending on circumstances, gravity and the outcome of their offence. These charges HAVE to be consistently handed out and well outlined to all players so naivety is not an excuse.
Anyway, let's get back to talking about our feelings…
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