October 2009
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Daniel Brigham: Graeme Smith Was Unsporting

October 1st, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in England, International, One-day cricket, South Africa


If this Champions Trophy is remembered for anything other than Jesse Ryder’s excellent moustache, it’ll be for captains having to make decisions about the spirit of the game. Andrew Strauss recalling Angelo Mathews after he was run out following a mid-pitch collision and then Daniel Vettori allowing Paul Collingwood to stay after he was stumped following the end of an over.

Then there was Strauss’s decision to not allow Graeme Smith a runner after getting cramp. Again, that was clearly the right call. Or was it?

According to a poll on Cricinfo.com, only 23% believe that Strauss did the right thing, while 46% thought Strauss was mean and nasty. The other 30% believed the umpires should have made the decision.

Was it really so unsportsmanlike? Strauss said that “cramping to a certain extent is a preparation thing and to a certain extent a conditioning thing”. So what he was really saying is that Smith, not the smallest of men, was too fat to bat. This seems completely fair to me. An international cricketer should be able to last 100 overs in a day without cramping up. Smith came back by saying that Strauss will find himself in the same situation at some point because “the world is round”. Sounds like Earth could be in danger of cramping, too.

A pulled hamstring, a broken toe … these are deserving of a runner. Not someone who doesn’t do enough fitness work. Running the cross-country would have been a doddle at school if I could have asked the teacher for a runner to complete the final quarter of it for me.

Strauss had as much right to refuse Smith a runner for cramping as he would if someone asked for one because they “felt a bit tired”. Who really is the more unsporting in this scenario? The professional sportsman trying to gain an advantage in a match because he isn’t fit enough or the man who tells him he can’t?

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, International, One-day cricket, South Africa | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Daniel Brigham: Graeme Smith Was Unsporting”

  1.   Tony Mobbs says:

    Cramping up wouldn’t have been a problem for Smith if the umpire had given him out when Onions had him plum lbw.

  2.   adrian zag says:

    Daniel, a perfect summary of the situation.
    One thing to add, perhaps, is that the likelihood of ‘Smuth’ allowing Strauss a runner if the roles were reversed are 1000-1 against, which makes his comments even more unsporting…

  3.   FJ says:

    What a ridiculous article-Graeme had worked really hard over the winter despite having to do a load of rehab from his elbow surgery. Get your facts right and stop making excuses for Strauss!

  4.   Gumbo says:

    FJ what’s his surgery got to do with it? He got cramp because he’s too round.

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