With the evolution of technology and also the sport, the spotlight is constantly on the cricketers. Almost every move and every step of theirs is tracked. There is media everywhere, be it on or off the field.
Thus, controversies are bound to happen. In fact, they have become a part and parcel of the game. Nowadays, small issues or small things tend to blow up and become big controversies. Moreover, the cricketers are considered role models, both on and off the field and any wrong step does put them under immense pressure.
There were multiple instances of cricketing controversies throughout this decade. Right from the first year of the decade (2010), big controversies came out.
Thus, with this decade coming to an end, we look at 10 of the top controversies to have headlined the sport.
Boundary count rule in the WC 2019 final and the umpiring blunder
The 2019 World Cup final was a cliff-hanger. There was pressure all around. Be it the players from both sides or even the match officials. One decision and it could cost either of the teams’ big time. And there was one such decision.
With 15 needed off the final over, Ben Stokes played a couple of dot balls before smashing a vital six to bring the equation down to 9 off the last three balls. On the fourth ball, he turned a full toss to deep midwicket and rushed back for two. While running the second, the throw from the deep (by Martin Guptill) hit Stokes’ bat and deflected away for four. Six runs were added to the total.
However, a few days later, former umpire Simon Taufel pointed out that it should’ve been only five runs as the batsmen hadn’t crossed at the time of the throw. On-field umpire for the final Kumar Dharmasena admitted that it was a judgemental error.
The scores were later tied and England batted first in the Super Over. They scored 15 and New Zealand had to score 16 to win the final. If the scores were tied again, England would’ve won based on the boundary count. That’s how it panned out and England became World Champions on the virtue of hitting more boundaries.
This rule was criticized heavily. Fans lashed out on social media and everyone felt for New Zealand who were at par with England on all counts.
In March 2018, a massive calamity struck Australian cricket. The Steve Smith-led side were in South Africa and the series was tied 1-1. The Proteas had started to call the shots by the third day of the third Test which was being played in Cape Town. That’s when the desperation kicked in.
Cameron Bancroft who was the youngest member of the team was caught rubbing a yellow sandpaper on the ball, in order to roughen up one side of the ball which will aid reverse swing. Cameras caught Bancroft using the sandpaper and then hiding it in his trousers. In the press conference, Smith walked in with Bancroft to reveal that the latter was not the one to blame. It was the decision of the ‘leadership group’.
What followed was an emotional burst from Australia. The players receive a one-Test suspension if they are found guilty. However, Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian fans did not take this well. The outrage was massive.
David Warner’s name came out in the open as well and the trio were withdrawn from the Test series. Smith was axed as captain. They were deemed as cheaters. The Aussies faced the brunt of everything they had done for years. Their sledging, arrogance, boldness and brashness was targeted as well.
An investigation was set up and eventually, the trio were handed out bans. Bancroft copped a nine-month suspension while Smith and Warner received 12-month bans. It was one of the darkest moments of this decade for the Aussies.
Pakistan’s spot-fixing scandal of 2010
Right at the start of the decade, one of the biggest controversies in the history of cricket broke out. The legitimacy of the game came into question as well. Three of Pakistan’s top cricketers were involved in spot-fixing in 2010 during their tour of England. They had taken money to underperform at certain stages of the game.
Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif had decided to betray their loyalty to the game in exchange of money. Amir deliberately bowled huge no-balls in the Lord’s Test against England and it was later confirmed that his captain at the time, Butt and fellow fast bowler Asif were involved as well.
Amir was just 18 years old and had already shown signs of becoming a great fast bowler. However, one wrong step and everything went for a toss. He pleaded guilty and was banned for five years. Butt was banned for 10 years while Asif copped a seven-year ban as well.
These two didn’t plead guilty and admit their wrongdoing early on. Thus, they were handed out jail terms as well. Butt was sentenced for 30 months while Asif served a year-long term. Amir went to jail for six months as well. It was one of the darkest days in the history of cricket.
After 2010, the spot-fixing saga didn’t leave cricket alone. In 2013, it was back and this time, it was IPL’s turn to bare the brunt. Three Rajasthan Royals (RR) cricketers – S Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested by the Delhi police for their alleged involvement in spot-fixing.
It was allegedly reported that the trio had accepted money in order to perform in a certain way during a particular time in the match. A few hours after the arrest orders, the three players were suspended and haven’t been seen on a cricket field ever since.
Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team principal Gurunath Meiyappan were also arrested on the charges of having links with bookies and alleged betting. It was also reported that Rajasthan Royals co-owner was involved in illegal betting as well and was arrested too. He was suspended from the IPL.
There were big investigations that took place and in the end, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were suspended for a period of two years – 2016 and 2017.
Koffee with Karan and the Pandya-Rahul case
Koffee with Karan is a talk-show run and hosted by Karan Johar who is a Bollywood director, producer, designer, actor among many other things. Largely, Bollywood stars are the ones that go to the talk-show and answer various questions based on their life, work and such things. However, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul turned up earlier this year.
The cricketers spoke outwardly on the show and revealed some of the untold stories of their off-field lives. Both Pandya and Rahul made revelations that sent Twitter and social media wild. The outrage was insane despite the duo tendering unconditional apologies. The BCCI suspended the two cricketers and called them back from the Australia tour as well.
Their suspensions were lifted inside a couple of weeks but the investigation was on. The case kept lingering on their head for a while before they were slapped with fines of INR 20 lakh each. This took place in April and BCCI’s Ombudsman D K Jain closed the case and said that no more action will be taken on them.
Kevin Pietersen’s sacking
The last time Kevin Pietersen was seen in England colours was back in the first week of January in 2014. It was the New Year’s Test in Sydney and Australia completed a 5-0 white-wash to regain the Ashes. Pietersen had scored 294 runs at an average of 29.40 in the series.
In the aftermath of the Ashes, Pietersen was sacked unceremoniously as England wanted to reform the ‘team ethics’. It was the end of a controversial yet an impressive career. While he might’ve scored 13,797 runs in international cricket, Pietersen was more often than not involved in a controversy.
He has always had issues with the ECB. The star batsman was dropped during a Test series in South Africa in 2012 after he sent some provocative text messages over WhatsApp to the South African players. He didn’t share a great relationship with Andrew Strauss either. There were problems between him and Any Flower as well which reportedly flared up during that 2013-14 Ashes. There was no proper reasoning for his axing as well.
The Ben Stokes brawl and the arrest
Two days after England won the second ODI against England, Ben Stokes was involved in a brawl in Bristol. Stokes was along with England teammate Alex Hales but only the former was arrested for throwing punches at two men in the brawl outside a bar. It was on that day only Stokes became England’s Test vice-captain before the ECB had to withdraw his name from the Ashes squad which England eventually lost 0-4.
However, a month later, the two men claimed that Stokes had come to their rescue and had he not intervened things might’ve been worse. The investigation was still on and Stokes wasn’t eligible to play for England. It was shut in November end and Stokes headed to New Zealand to play domestic cricket.
It was in February that the all-rounder made a return to international cricket. In August 2018, he attended the hearing where he was found not guilty and the case came to an end. It was a torrid 12 months for Stokes who missed quite a bit of cricket due to this one incident.
The Kumble-Kohli rift
Rifts between captain and coach is nothing new in Indian cricket. Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell had a major fall out in the first decade of the 21st century. India had to bear another rift and captain-coach fall out in this decade. Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble are two of India’s greatest players from different generations and eras but the two together will be remembered as a duo that couldn’t coexist together.
In 2016, Kumble was appointed as head coach of the Indian team and had a very successful stint. India did well across formats under the former leg-spinner and was all set to continue after his one-year tenure ended as well. However, reports of rift between Kohli and Kumble emerged. It was alleged that the captain didn’t agree with a playing XI (for the fourth Test against Australia in Dharamsala) and things boiled up from there.
Kohli brushed aside rumours of rift ahead of the Champions Trophy in June 2017. However, after India’s loss in the final of the tournament, Kumble steps down as head coach. He sent out a tweet which said that the skipper had reservations with Kumble’s style of coaching and didn’t want him to continue as head coach which led to the Indian legend taking the step.
The full West Indies team coming out for toss in India in 2014 and pulling out of the tour
During the toss, there are a maximum of four or five people in the middle – the two captains, match referee, presenter and at times, a toss representative. However, in the fourth ODI of West Indies tour of India in 2014, the entire West Indian team was out in the middle. They were standing right behind their captain, Dwayne Bravo.
There were issues between the players and the board. They had a pay dispute going on for quite a while and the men from the Caribbean decided to take it to the next level. After playing four ODIs in India, they decided to call off the tour and send a strong message to their board.
They were scheduled to play one more ODI, a T20 game and three Test matches. However, Dwayne Bravo and his team decided to withdraw from the tour. The entire team held strong and were united in their stance in the pay dispute against the WICB. India then rescheduled plans and invited Sri Lanka over to play a five-match ODI series.
David Warner and Quinton de Kock involved in a dressing room altercation
David Warner is brash, bold and aggressive and doesn’t shy from having a go at someone. When Australia toured South Africa in 2018, Warner was even being targeted by the crowds and everyone around. He was involved in multiple things and first of those was an altercation with Quinton de Kock.
As seen in a leaked CCTV footage of the stairway to the dressing room, the two cricketers were involved in a very heated conversation. The Australian opener was having a go at de Kock on their way to the dressing room. He had to be pulled back by his skipper Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, and Tim Paine at different times.
The South African stumper who was following the Australian players was kept away from Warner and went into the dressing room. Both players got away without being charged by the ICC. However, only two Test matches later, Warner was involved in the ball-tampering fiasco in Cape Town which led to a one-year ban.
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