Thursday, May 10, 2007


Adam Gilchrist: Storm In A Squash Ball?


I have thought long and hard about squash ball-gate. It is one of those issues where the consitution of the game may not be an overly helpful guide in determining whether Adam Gilchrist's actions were ethical. The only law that can possibly be of any use in this debate is the one that pertains to the 'spirit of the game'.

Just for the record, I belong to the school of thought that condemns Gilchrist's actions as unethical and improper.

As an aside, what surprised me was the ICC's supreme speed in openly declaring that Adam Gilchrist had not broken any laws of the game. It astonishes me that one person within the ICC can hand down a judgement on an issue, which effectively is based on interpretation more than anything else, when every other sport has a tribunal-style system to decide the fate of the accused.

For mine, the ICC is correct in asserting that Gilchrist's use of a squash ball has not have breached any laws that deal with the type of equipment players can wear. However, it most definitely has breached any law relating the spirit of the game.

The most common argument in support of Gilchrist is that the squash ball is akin to any other piece of protective equipment that players may wear in today's game. I beg to differ. I have no problem with players wearing extra padding on permitted protective equipment to be extra cautious, but the squash ball is not a piece of protective equipment. The squash ball is similar to Dennis Lillee's alumnium bat and Hansie Cronje's wireless ear-pieces of 1999 World Cup fame.

Both Cronje and Lillee, before him, used equipment that was designed to give them an unfair advantage over their opponents. The concerned devices were not within the 'spirit of the game'. This is also the case with Gilchrist's squash ball. The ball-in-the-glove plan was designed to make it impossible for Gilchrist to commit mistakes that he would otherwise have been lulled into making by clever and accurate bowling - namely not playing straight.

On a related point, I fail to understand why Gilchrist would resort to such dubious tactics. Over the years he has flayed all attacks, especially of the Sri Lankan variety, without a foreign object in his glove. This was not an act of innovation or "good ol'" Australian ingenuity, it was a sign of an ageing cricketer becoming lazy after finding it impossible to remedy bad habits.

Its hard for me to write as such about Gilchrist, as I have admired his undying commitment to being a better man whilst he has been playing in the company of much lesser men. However, this was not a done thing.

As a tribute to how Gilchrist can really play, without implements in his glove, check out this video of his innings in the Ashes when he scored the second fastest century of all time:




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