There is a reason why cricket is called the gentleman’s game as here the spirit of the game should be followed at every step. Here a player should give equal respect to his teammates and opponents. Sadly a lot of incidents happen where the players fail to maintain the required on-field discipline and clash with their counterparts. Such events gain a lot of attention and become controversial matters.
However, some dramatic events also occur behind closed doors. Though the fans will never get to watch it creates a ruckus in the dressing-rooms. Most of the times such matters will not be disclosed easily but with time it finds its way to the audience. It must have affected the performances of the team. Over the years there have instances when such dressing room incidents have become a national debate.
Here is the list of 10 most controversial dressing-room incidents in cricket history
1) Chappell – Ganguly spat
Undoubtedly the greatest dressing room controversy transpired when Greg Chappell took over the coaching duties of the Indian team. The Australian completely derailed the country’s cricket progression in its golden years. The side struggled to win any silverware under his reign. More importantly, he manipulated some great players including Sourav Ganguly.
It all started with Chappell asking Ganguly to step down from the captaincy post of the national team. As a result, he was dropped from the playing XI which didn’t go down well with him. The disappointment levels reached a new high when the Bengal cricketer decided to quit the Zimbabwe tour. At that time the press conferences became more interesting than the on-field actions as new stories came up every day.
Then, Chappell played a dirty trick by sending an e-mail to BCCI stating Sourav’s negative influence on the team. A meeting followed where both the personalities agreed to work together but again the former Indian skipper found himself out of the side. Soon it became a national debate as the dressing room was divided on opinions. After continuing for two long years, eventually the matters got resolved when the team suffered an early exit from the 2007 World Cup.
2) Warner – De Kock outburst
When two high profile teams play Test cricket things are expected to get animated. A year ago a similar situation happened at Durban when South Africa and Australia locked horns. Right from the start of the game verbal volleys became part of the proceedings. Though the umpires managed to control the on-field fury the things got escalated in the dressing room staircase.
At the center of it were David Warner and Quinton de Kock as they crossed the imaginary line of sledging. Both the players made derogatory remarks regarding each other’s family members. It is believed that when David called Quinton’s sister and mother as bush pigs De Kock referred something about his wife Candice. As usual, David couldn’t take the heat and lost his temper.
He looked extremely agitated and started abusing Quinton on his way back to the pavilion. Thereafter the CCTV footage revealed that the Australian had to be stopped by his teammates to avoid a physical showdown. Both the teams shared their version of the story and tried to shield their players. Notably, it was the first step towards the darkest saga of this century, ball-tampering at Newlands which shook the entire cricketing fraternity.
3) Waqar-Wasim clash
Pakistan’s cricket team is never short of controversies. If it is not their match-fixing scandals or selection mishaps then it is the fight within the dressing room. There have times when the players have openly blamed each other for the team’s poor performances. Still, the most remembered one has to be the indifferences between Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis which remained under the mat for more than a decade.
The incident revealed by the former Pakistan speedster, Shoaib Akhtar in his autobiography, ‘Controversially Yours’ raised many eyebrows. According to him, both the legends didn’t share the same chemistry off the field. He further added that during the Asian Test Championship in 1999 the entire team suffered due to their ego problems. It reached a point where Waqar could have been dropped from the squad.
As per Akhtar, the team environment didn’t suit the younger players and the senior members laid their separate plans. Even though the matter has not been discussed much, there have been stories that both the pacers tried to outdo each other in their heydays because of the mutual hatred. In those days Waqar has even blamed his new-ball partner, Akram for keeping him on the bench for 18 months.
4) Nidahas Trophy mystery
There are times when cricketers play the game to settle the personal scores. In the process, the teams will forget the rules and regulations and set a wrong example in front of the audience. In that case, the game is invariably at the receiving end and the authorities need to take necessary actions. Sadly sometimes even the officials turn a blind eye and the Nidahas Trophy is the prime example.
In a mouth-watering contest to secure a place in the final of Nidahas trophy Sri Lanka and Bangladesh played out an absolute thriller. Unfortunately, it will never be remembered for the cricket as the players created a ruckus in the final minutes of the game. Tempers flared on the field and as well as outside the ground. It culminated with the breaking of dressing-room glass doors.
Straight away the officials decided to conduct an investigation and requested the ground staff’s support. CCTV footages were checked but it wasn’t fruitful. Then the match referee, Chris Broad took the help of catering staff and came to know that Shakib Al Hasan is the real culprit. Everyone expected a harsh punishment but in a turn of events, he decided to term the available evidence as inconclusive and closed the matter.
5) Strauss – Pietersen trust issues
There is a reason why the cricketing fans love Kevin Pietersen as he is one of the boldest characters of the game. He always spoke his mind and even appreciated his rivals in the most tense battles. Unfortunately, it didn’t suit the culture of English cricket and led to his downfall in his professional life. Even his teammates betrayed him in his tough times which is evident from his dressing room hullabaloos.
The episode which is the most hyped one has to be the text exchange between him and South African players. During his 2011 safari to his birth country, the right-hander was scrutinized for his conversations with opponents. It didn’t amuse skipper, Andrew Strauss, and coach, Andy Flower and finally when his texts were leaked it resulted in his ousting.
In a one-off, the messages which Kevin received his captain was called “doos” which is an insult in Afrikaan language. He revealed it as part of friendly banter but the ECB didn’t value his statements. They went on to say that he might have been sharing dressing room secrets to the opposition. Later in his autobiography, he made it clear that he talked to the opposition members as he didn’t have good friends within the team. After that event, the England team singled out for the rest of his career.
6) Damien Martyn – James Anderson fling
The title might fool you as the named candidates never argued with each other in this incident. After winning the Adelaide Test in the 2007 Ashes the Kangaroos and the Brits were sharing light-hearted moments. What followed in the next 72 hours surprised everybody as Damien Martyn announced his international retirement. At that instant, it shocked the cricketing world and some reports started doing the rounds.
Then James Anderson unveiled his part of the story in his memoir which hogged the limelight for a long time. As per him, Martyn encouraged him to hit Micheal Clarke with a batting pad. On the influence of a couple of beers, he did it with conviction and within seconds the atmosphere of the dressing room completely changed. It enraged Clarke and brought an abrupt end to the get-together.
Later in the evening, Matthew Hayden miffed with Damien while discussing the earlier events. Jimmy has also claimed that Martyn used to be a lone wolf in the team and he might have been roasted after the fiasco. However, the Australian batsman has always denied such news and has confirmed that he is in good terms with Haydos. A sudden goodbye in the midst of an Ashes series might have been the consequences of dressing room troubles.
7) Kohli – Rohit rift
In Indian cricket, the issue which has raised its ugly head on multiple occasions is the personality clash between stars of the side. It was no different when the team failed to reach the 2019 World Cup final. After their heartbreaking loss to New Zealand stories were flying around regarding the possible division in the dressing room. Immediately the media also added fuel to the fire and that’s why the topic is still headlining the front pages.
Yep, it is the alleged rift between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli which has been grabbing all the attention in these two months. According to some tabloids both the players disagreed over the batting position of MS Dhoni in the semi-final. It has also been spilled that Hitman has not been happy with the decision-making skills of team management. While some others have termed their tiff because of the problems between their partners.
As expected most of the team members have given diplomatic answers on questions regarding the event. Even the CoA held a meeting to resolve the issues but never disclosed the details. Though Virat has openly dismissed the allegations Rohit is yet to clear the air. Another thing that has been kept unexplained is the social media activities of the Mumbaikar. He has often posted cryptic messages which tells that something is not right within the group.
8) Afghanistan meltdown
A player sent back home in the middle of a tournament owing to an injury is a normal thing. It also happened with Afghanistan’s keeper-batsman, Mohammad Shehzad as he suffered a knee injury in the 2019 World Cup. Then after returning to the country, he made some shocking revelations which led to the opening of Pandora’s box. It highlighted the problems surrounding Afghanistan’s cricket.
In the following days, it came to light that the senior players didn’t like Gulbadin Naib as the leader of the group. There were also reports of heated arguments between selectors and coach, Phil Simmons. Some of the stars openly criticized the coaching staff for their poor performances in the tournament. It seemed dark clouds were hovering in their dressing room.
The team environment remained in tatters even after the global event. All hell broke loose when the skipper lashed out at his teammates. He went onto add that the experienced players failed the country. Though they are not an established side in the international circuit their problems became a major talking point in the cricketing circle. As far as the Afghanistan team is concerned they should try to avoid such occurrences in the future.
9) Jadeja – Anderson row
The Indian cricket team has always found themselves in great distress in overseas tours. Especially in England where they have faced on-field and as well as off-field troubles in whites. Even in 2014, their fortunes traced the same path. This time the incident happened in the corridor leading to the dressing room.
The two individuals involved were Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson. At first, the Indian off-spinner accused the Englishman of verbal abuse. He also added that the pacer pushed him aggressively on his back. On the other side, Anderson denied the allegations and came up with his own version. According to him Jadeja led the conflict and tried to provoke him. Both the players leveled charges against each other.
Players from both the camp shared their views but failed to provide any proof. Even the CCTV footage didn’t give a clear picture. Finally, after a series of appeals, the charges were dismissed because of the lack of evidence. The incident fuelled the series and the teams started playing with more vigor. Surprisingly another dressing-room controversy remained unsolved.
When Australia visited the Indian shores in 2013 for a four-match Test series, the fans expected a good contest. Stunningly the team lost the first two games with their lackadaisical performances. From there it was going to be an uphill task for them to level the series. It became more difficult when 4 of their stars were sidelined for the third tie because of their incomplete homework.
Yes, you heard it right even the cricketers are supposed to finish their assignments in the academy of Mickey Arthur. It sounds really disturbing when a head coach comes up with such tactics. However, it must have been the pressure of coaching a high profile team. Also, the added dressing-room tensions after losing two games convincingly which prompted him to take such measures. Even the skipper, Michael Clarke agreed with him.
From the episode, it is clear that the team didn’t involve senior members of the group while taking important decisions. A couple of years ago Shane Watson admitted that the team used a different approach in those days. Then he went onto add that the players never got the deserved respect in the dressing-room. Now even Arthur has apologized for taking such steps so it can be called an unfortunate incident.
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