Calling all cheats, PC Botham’s onto you

Alastair Cook is obvioulsy a lot more PC and diplomatic than Sir Ian Botham is. I think Cook was definately trying to play the incident with a straight bat, when asked about Phil Hughes’ alledged catch yesterday.

As expected, Michael Clarke also defended Hughes, but I wouldn’t expect anything else as he is his captain.

At the moment though I wouldn’t take much notice of anything coming out of Clarke’s mouth. Judging by his remark that he still thinks Australia can win the test, he is clearly deluded at the moment.

In fairness to Clarke though, he did defend Ian Bell’s referral.

I don’t buy all this PC bullcrap though, I know what I saw and I agree with Botham, which is something I can rarely claim.

First, Hughes goes up as if too say ‘Oooh, how close was that’? And then he chucks the ball up in the air and starts to celebrate.

Thats not the actions of a man who has just said ‘I’m not sure if I caught that ump, you’d better refer it’.

It was very poor.

As was Michael Clarke’s handling of the incident. I don’t for a moment expect to see him hang Hughes out to dry, of course that would be wrong. But what I would expect from him, is some sort of recognition that his players are expected to behave in a manner that dosen’t bring his teams reputation into question.

To read his quotes that “Brad Haddin saw the ball clearly but wasn’t sure,” dosen’t make sense. He also claimed that “we made that quite clear to the umpires” (that they weren’t sure if it had carried). Can’t say that is how I saw it.

A day on and I’m glad to see Botham isn’t backing down on his view, I don’t often agree with him these days, but at least he stands by his beliefs and tells it like it is.

Another incident I feel the need to comment on, is the stick Ian Bell has been getting. I don’t want to sound like I’m just defending the English here, but what did Bell do wrong?

Only an idiot would call for a review if he had knowingly hit the ball. Do the Aussies really think that Bell has become that full of himself that he would call a review if he knew he hit it? Come on!

According to snicko, he looked to be out. If the technology fails or the way the system is interpretated is wrong, then that isn’t Bell’s fault.

Yes, Bell was probably out, he got lucky. But he didn’t try and pull a fast one in my view. But just to add to that, one piece of technology contradicted the other, so which one takes priority? I don’t know.

I know that the snicko evidence only came to light a few minutes later, when it was too late to influence the decision. It’s one for ICC to sort out I’m afraid.

If the Aussie fans want to pick up on people not walking, then why are they not asking why Ponting didn’t walk when he edged down the leg side to Prior earlier in the series? He stood there and waited for an England review, was there any real difference?

Yes there was, Ponting knew dam well he had hit the ball.

13 thoughts on “Calling all cheats, PC Botham’s onto you

  1. Anonymous says:

    “I don’t want to sound like I’m just defending the English here…”

    Too late. Neither Hughes nor Bell did anything wrong. Get over it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dean,

    I’m actually going to agree with half of what you said, but disagree with half.

    On Hughes…that was very poor of him. And whether he openly admits it or not…I think in his heart he’ll know he has let his country’s honour, and the sport, down.

    Sadly, he’s not the first cricketer from Australia, or from anywhere else, to do so. Every NZ fan will remember when 2 years back, in the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series…Haddin unintentionally (probably) broke the stumps with his gloves keeping to a spinner…and then claimed that the batter was bowled! The replays damned him very clearly…but there was never an apology or regret expressed by him or his team even after the game.

    As for Clarke…in Sydney, 2008, vs India…he knicked Kumble to SLIP…not a fine knick to the keeper, but a solid knick to SLIP…and didn’t walk! Of course, the umpire gave him out…but Kumble was very disappointed with that episode.

    You’ve already spoken about Ponting’s snick. I mean all these incidents leave me AGHAST that he rightously advocates a “gentleman’s agreement” to accept the word of a catcher! When integrity is no priority when his team bats!

    But on the Bell incident, Dean, sorry, but I have to disagree…I think he’s let himself and England down. For the simple reason that his referral wasn’t instantaneous / spontaneous…which leads me to believe he knew he had most probably (if not definitely) knicked it. I mean just contrast that to the time Cook had reviewed an LBW a Test back when he had inside-edged it…it was immediate, and he even smiled at Strauss to let him know he was perfectly safe.

    I just wish cricketers would reflect on their actions at the end of the day’s play…and listen to their conscience more often. But that doesn’t happen very often…be it Australia, India, England or whereever. People just aren’t strong enough to admit they’ve let their country and their sport down.

    -BP

  3. Hi BP, thanks for your comments.

    Thats a fair point about Bell not reviewing quickly enough, I never thought about it like that. And you could be right that he thought he might have knicked it, but wasn’t totally sure. But if that was the case, wasn’t a review fair enough?

    I still can’t quite get my head around a guy reviewing an edge if he knew he had definately knicked it though.

    You’d have to have a fairly brass neck to do so, and I just don’t see Bell as that type of character, KP maybe.

    Suely he wasn’t desperate enough to do it either. Ok, he didn’t have an Ashes century, but at the time, he had had a reasonable series.

    I agree with your point about cricketers reflecting on their actions as well, sadly I think that is not going to happen. Whether it be Bell, Ponting, Clarke or Hughes.

    To the first contributor, Hughes did nothing wrong did he?

    Why?

    Have they changed the laws of the game lately?

    I’m no fan of Ian Botham’s opinions, but at least he has the guts to say what a lot of people know to be true but would never dare say.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just read Bell’s response…he’s saying he wasn’t 100% sure if there had been a snick…and he wanted Prior’s opinion on whether he should refer it.

    Perhaps you’re right, Dean, and maybe we should give Bell the benefit of his doubt, so to speak. (My first impression had been that he was just trying his luck…he’d been already given out…so there was no further personal downside to referring it.)
    Although, someday, I would like a cross-country panel of ex-cricketers to set this question to rest…is it possible to snick a ball and not know? Coz I always believed a batsman always knows. But I have an open mind.

    As for snicko vs HotSpot…surely HotSpot must be more accurate since it has been made a part of UDRS, while snicko hasn’t. But here again, it would help if the ICC made their assessment of the 2 technologies known openly…and advised cricket writers and commentators to put it across to the viewing public.

    -BP

  5. BP,

    I couldn’t agree more with what you say about ICC, clarification is needed. Since the introduction of the review system it has been evolving and improving, and this Bell saga does show that there is still plenty of room for improvement.

    It’s mainly down to interpretation of the the system, what takes prioity over what, umpires or technology, hotspot or snicko, snicko or umpire etc, etc.

    I remember when it was first used in an England series away in West Indies, it was an absolute disaster. It has come a long way since then, but it is still far from as good as it could be.

    Also I think only one review is enough, but thats a different issue.

    Having had a bit longer to reflect on the Bell issue, I can see why people are questioning his decision. I didn’t see it as it happened, so didn’t get a true instinctive reaction as to what happened.

    But the fact that he consulted Prior dosen’t look great. But I still think it would be madness for a batsman to request a review if he knew he had hit a ball, you stand to lose all your credibility, trust, good name, everything.

    If you’re that stupid, you shouldn’t be playing test cricket, as you have no brain.

    Having watched Bell over the years, it is obvious that he is far from the most assertive character in the England dressing room, maybe that is why he seeked Prior’s opinion.

    He’s no Ponting, Warne, Pietersen, Flintoff or Merv Hughes when it comes to asserting himself.

  6. Anonymous says:

    (2 of 2)
    Suddenly, Botham’s claims about player certainty over what exactly happened disappear:

    “Bell said he didn’t know if he hit it or not, and when you are batting you don’t always know if you make contact with the thinnest of edges.”

    And here come Botham’s excuses for Bell:

    “There are noises from the bat handle and from the helmet so you cannot be sure if you have hit it”

    And in dramatic contrast to what he said about the Hughes situation, here is what Botham said for Bell:

    “If the technology is there then use it. He did that, and it worked for him.”

    Here was Botham’s “advice” for Hughes:

    “Just tell the umpires it didn’t carry and let’s all get on with the game because goodness knows there are more than enough stoppages in it these days.”

    But back to the Bell situation:

    “The hotspot showed nothing [Michael Slater on Ch 9 actually pointed out a very faint white spot, which quickly faded] and the ordinary picture showed no deflection, but when it came to the sound, there was something there.
    Snicko suggested the ball hit the bat, but we can’t use that for decisions so forget it.”

    Ahhhh, I see. “Forget” snicko, even though it was the smoking gun which conclusively showed (not “suggested”) Bell had got a thin edge. I know it couldn’t be used in the review, but glossing over its implications re whether Bell got an edge or not is pretty sneaky.

    For the record, I have no problem with what Bell did, whether he knew he hit it or not. It would be perfectly rational for Bell to ask for review, even if he did think he hit it. Remember earlier in the series when Ryan Harris was given out LBW despite getting an inside edge? Harris immediately challenged, hotspot showed a faint but definite white spot, and yet the LBW was upheld. Bell still should have been given out, but that was an error by the umpires, not Bell.

    “I’m no fan of Ian Botham’s opinions, but at least he has the guts to say what a lot of people know to be true but would never dare say.”

    No, no he doesn’t. He has the guts to brand players as cheats or gentlemen based solely on their nationality, and to use weasel words to modify his own arguments so that he can continue to claim he was right all along, rather than having to apologise for his improper behaviour. If you believe he just says what he says for the sake of the spirit of cricket, you are a dupe, albeit probably an honest one. Unlike Ian Botham.

  7. Anonymous says:

    (1 of 2)
    “To the first contributor, Hughes did nothing wrong did he?

    Why?”

    I’ll let Alistair Cook help you out (and I know you have already suggested Cook outright lied when he defended Hughes, but here goes).

    Cook said: ” It was very close, and to be fair to Phil Hughes, he said straight away ‘I wasn’t sure’. Obviously I was going to hang around on 99, you’ve got to be dragged off, so they went upstairs and I think the right decision was made.”

    Botham has reiterated his position in his column, even after his initial interpretation of events had been disproved, but is weaselling his words to alter his story in order to maintain he was right all along. He states:

    “I spent nearly my entire cricketing career fielding close to the bat. If I wasn’t at short leg or short cover as a young player starting out then I was firmly placed in the slips taking catches close to the bat. I knew when the ball carried and I knew when I had scooped it up on the half-volley and so do these players.”

    He does this because it is now clear that Hughes said he WASN’T sure if he caught the ball, rather than saying he definitely caught it. Therefore Botham makes the dubious claim that a close-in fielder making a sharp (attempted) catch will always know if it has carried, and therefore any claim of doubt by the fieldsman must be invalid. He continues with the same theme:

    “Phil Hughes is going to have to live with that one for a while and it will follow him. To just turn around and say, ‘I’m not sure,’ is a cop out when you know full well how that ball ended up in your hand.”

    But earlier he had to account for the fact his own story STILL doesn’t make sense by saying:

    “So why was he appealing for the catch and why was he saying, ‘I’m not sure.’? The only thing he could have been sure of is that TV technology was going to show him up and prove that it wasn’t even close to being out.
    To stand there and ask the umpires to go upstairs and check to see if it carried is an appeal. And, from what we saw, I think that was a bizarre appeal to make.”

    Yes Ian, it WOULD be bizarre if you KNEW the video evidence would show that the ball clearly hadn’t carried.

    And so Botham sums up his reconfigured argument:

    “This is why I said on commentary that it was cheating and it still remains one of the worst examples of a player hoping to get a dismissal when he knows it is not out.”

    No, the reasons you said it was blatant cheating were:
    1) You weren’t at that stage forced to concede that Hughes immediately admitted doubt as to whether he caught the ball, and
    2) Hughes is an Australian, and any excuse will do to brand an Australian a cheat, but not an Englishman. Which brings us to what Botham said about Bell.
    (cont)

  8. Thanks for the two in depth replies, first contributor (sorry to refer to you like that, but you left no name).

    I have no problem with anybody coming on here and putting me straight, I’m just not too keen on someone slagging (not suggesting you did that) an opinion without adding their own.

    Think it will be easier to break my replies up into two.

    (1/2)Maybe I am a dupe, but I can assure you, I am an honest ‘dupe’.

    I think where our opinions differ here is that you are saying Hughes said “he wasn’t sure if he caught the ball.” And that he ‘immediately admitted doubt as to whether he caught the ball.’

    Whereas from the pictures I watched, it looked to me like he claimed the catch after initially acting like it had dropped short. Then he thought ‘we’d better go upstairs’.

    After that, of course they were right to go upstairs. But was that not a convenient ‘get out’ after realising that to claim the catch outright, which I still believe he did, they would be found out?

    With regard to Alastair Cook’s remarks, I don’t think a lot can be read into them. Even if he does think it was cheating, he was never going to say it, he couldn’t. There is also the possibility that he totally believes what he said, but I somehow doubt it.

    He is England’s captain in waiting and it wouldn’t go down well saying things like that, and I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t say it as I believe he would want the series played in good spirit, and to call you’re opponent a cheat would cause a massive stink to say the least.

    You can also add to that, that Cook is a non confrontational person who doesn’t go around making controversial remarks.

    Also if you want to turn Cook’s remarks around, he is basically saying that he wouldn’t walk on 99 in any circumstances. Cheating?

  9. (2/2)With regard to Ian Botham.

    I get the impression that your issue is more with him than me.

    I was trying to point out that Botham was being non PC and making a stand, something badly missing from all walks of life these days.

    I was also pointing out that he was standing by his beliefs and wasn’t backing down just because he was being put under pressure. He was asked during the next day’s play if he stood by them, he said he did.

    I don’t know what he wrote in his column, as I’ve not read it, or have any intention of doing so. But I’m happy to take your word for it.
    I still believe that Botham has every right to call someone he believes to be cheating, a cheat. But he also has to be consistent and call anyone he thinks is cheating, a cheat.

    You can’t just reserve it for Phil Hughes or Aussie’s trying to beat England, he has to say it if he thinks Ian Bell, or any other Englishman has cheated. I can’t remember, but I doubt very much he called Stuart Broad a cheat for standing on the ball in SA last year.

    He may well be inconsistent, I’ll give you that for sure. You have rightly pointed out his inconsistencies with Bell (rightly, in his opinion) using the review, and Hughes (wrongly, in his opinion) using the review system.

    For the record I wrote the same about Bell, which I’m happy to admit I have got wrong. Hughes was as entitled to use the review as Bell was. But as I’ve already wrote, it’s the initial footage of Hughes ‘oohing at how close he was to taking the catch’ that says to me he knew it wasn’t out in the first place and the review was a face saving act.

    Botham’s view that a batsman wouldn’t know if he had faintly edged because of sounds in his helmet etc, is a weak embarrassing argument.

    I also don’t for a minute think you would have to look to hard through the archives of Sky Sports to find some footage of Botham at some stage saying that ‘a batsman knows full well if he’s edged it,’ when the situation has suited him to do so.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised to find some quotes from Botham saying that a fielder might not know if the ball has carried when it suits him, he is totally inconsistent, no argument from me there. Those are the sort of things why I pointed out that I rarely agree with Botham.

    In his autobiography, Duncan Fletcher describes him as a man who “runs with the foxes and hunts with the hounds,” and I wouldn’t disagree with a word of that.

    I did find reading the blogs after that days play that there seemed to be an Aussie complex that everything was against them, that the English had been using the review system tactically and that Australia had been hard done too.

    I would go as far as to say Australia had no luck with the reviews, the no-balls are their own fault but added to Bell and Hughes they look to have made people think there is some kind of conspiracy after Australia.

    I don’t believe this for a minute, but Bell decision was wrong and just shows there is still plenty of room for improvement in the review system, a point made by Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd and Mike Atherton.

    That’s one for ICC, as is the fact that they are currently not using it in New Zealand, it needs more clarity and consistency.

    I’ve had enough debating now, I’m going for a lie-down.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your reply. You are right that my main issue was with Botham and not with you – this page just happened to come up first on a google search.

    With the Hughes catch, I probably went too far in defending him, and the truth is probably a bit blurry anyway. Maybe he was pretty sure it didn’t carry but started to second guess that when his teammates came rushing in to congratulate him for finally getting rid of England’s immovable object. Who knows exactly what he was thinking and when? I just didn’t think it deserved the branding of Phil Hughes as “world’s worst cheat” or similar.

    I’ve seen incidents where players have dropped a catch and picked the ball up off the ground and started to celebrate. Roger Harper did that once on a caught and bowled chance, a recent Pakistani keeper did the same (maybe Rashid Latif?), and so on. There have been numerous premeditated attempts to cheat, such as Afridi’s roughing up the pitch with his shoes, the infamous underarm delivery (although technically not against the rules), and countless incidents of ball tampering.

    This is not to excuse “lesser” acts of cheating, but I think that esteemed former players and commentators should give players the benefit of the doubt and shouldn’t be too eager to brand players as “cheats” for appealing when they think something probably isn’t out, for not walking etc. I think it’s OK to let the umpires decide things and occasionally err in your favour. Adam Gilchrist once (at least) walked when he had missed the ball entirely and hit his bat on the ground instead. I guess he felt that if he probably hit it, he should definitely walk, so as not to diminish his reputation as a walker.

    On another note, I don’t think there was a conspiracy against Australia either, and if England had a bit of luck, it wasn’t a significant factor in the series. 3-1 was a fair result. I notice that Botham is now trying to stick the boot into Australian cricket by saying what a shambles we are and how none of the Australians would get into the England team. I guess he wouldn’t select Hussey or even consider Haddin, Johnson or Watson.

    Australia obviously needs changes and our team as a whole didn’t perform well over the summer, but I actually think we are in reasonable shape as far as batting and fast bowling talent goes. What we desperately need is a quality spinner. Beer must be about the eighth one we’ve tried in the last few years. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how both England and Australia’s form translates into the one dayers. Bring on the world cup!

  11. (1/2)

    Thanks for replying. That’s good that I came out top of google, I was amazed to read that.

    On reflection, I think my headline for the article is wrong, it suggests that Botham is some sort of cricketing judge and jury when obviously he is not.

    I was a fan of him as a player, but not so much as a commentator. The only thing I like about him is he doesn’t sit on the fence, but when he is wrong (quite often), he winds people up. Then I suppose when someone like me writes an article like this it looks like I’m endorsing Botham and treating him as some sort of moral standard setter.

    My apologies for being misleading, it wasn’t intentional.

    I know I’m going off track here, but I got really pissed off with FIFA’s handling of the football world cup bidding process. Not so much England, but more how Qatar got the 2022 world cup at Australia’s expense.

    For Australia to only get one vote and England two was a deliberate set up in my view. In this country hardly anyone came out and said it like it is about FIFA, that wound me up a lot, so when I see someone telling it like it is at the moment, I’m inclined to defend them.

    I would have been more than happy to see someone like David Beckham saying he’s through with FIFA, that they conned him etc, and he will never trust them again. Be real bad losers for once and insult FIFA.

    No one ever does though, we’re just too PC and keep quiet and show diplomacy.

    Back to cricket, I still think a cheat is a cheat, but where do you define the difference between not walking, claiming lbw’s, close catches, etc?

    You are right there have been far worse incidents of catches being claimed than what we saw last week. It did actually happen to Botham with a Pakistan wicket keeper about 25 years ago, when the ball was rolling around on the floor behind him.

    And I also think that you are onto something with Phil Hughes. After thinking about it a bit more, I don’t think he was intending to appeal, I think his team mates appealed and he joined in with them.

    Obviously that’s not right, but he’s a young player whose place is under threat. Had he been more experienced and had more stature he might have waved his hands and said ‘no I didn’t catch it’.

    I was guilty of judging Bell by how I perceive him to be, but not Hughes. I was judging Hughes solely on the incident and Bell on his character, which was wrong of me and Botham like.

    cont

  12. (2/2)

    I actually don’t think Australia are that bad either, I am planning to write a piece saying so.

    They are out of form, came up against an in form side who punished them in an Aussie like way of previous years, once a side gets behind it takes a special side to fight back, like your teams with Warne and McGrath, Gilchrist, etc, in them. Obviously this side hasn’t got that character, but who has? England couldn’t turn Perth around and crumbled quite feebly when they got behind.

    I think you have selection issues, I think if you could find a decent opener, No.3, etc, you could move Watson into the middle order, I think he is more in the Symonds mould and could be devastating playing there, especially with no Gilchrist around now.

    Haddin is a top class keeper. Harris and Siddle are decent bowlers, and before this series Hilfenhaus was highly regarded, he can’t have gone that far backwards in 7 weeks.

    I’ve said this before as well, I was worried England would spend years trying out 2nd rate all rounders when Flintoff retired, but to be fair to them they haven’t, they have settled on 6 batsmen instead.

    Australia seem to be doing that with spinners, it’s obvious that Warne can’t be replaced, so why are they trying. I don’t even think the Aussie selectors know what role they want their spinner to play? Will he be to contain? Like Harris, Ashley Giles, etc. Or would his role be to attack and take wickets?

    That’s what I mean by saying you have selection issues, if you can sort that out I don’t think you are far wrong. It wasn’t that long ago since you nearly beat India. Also you are not going to come up against someone who scores 760 odd runs every series, Cook will never, and I mean never have another series like this one. That is as good as it gets.

  13. Just to add to the above, I did hear something about Botham saying no Aussie would get in the England team, which is laughable, so he thinks Hussey isn’t better than Collingwood then? That Shane Watson wouldn’t improve England batting at No.6 and being a 5th bowler and quality slip fielder? An in form Ponting wouldn’t get in the Enmgland team either? Brad Haddin for Prior maybe, that is a close one in fairness. All could easily be in the England team.

    7 weeks ago, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Johnson and Harris would all have been well ahead of Tim Bresnan as well. Although I don’t think that England would go near Mitchell Johnson, Flower got rid of those sort of characters when he took over.

    He prefers (maybe, less talented) consistent team men of good character to erratic individuals, like Bresnan to Harmison, Collingwood to Shah or Bopara, etc.

    Thats why Chris Tremlett didn’t get recalled for so long, he was too erratic and gave off too many bad vibes.

    The conspiracy thing was something I picked up off other blogs, there seemed to be a lot of Aussies moaning about the referral system, how they were being used on the no-balls on English wickets, how Bell had cheated it, etc.

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