Cricket, a sport that can turn you from a superhero to a supervillain quicker than a chameleon changes colours, never fails to deliver its fair share of drama.
In this World Cup of soaring sixes and bowling spectacles, fans were in for a twist that left everyone with a sour taste. Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, pulled out a law mustier than the childhood clothes in a grandma’s trunk — Timed Out — to end Sri Lankan veteran Angelo Mathews’ very short stay at the crease.
According to Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) law 40.1.1, “After the fall of a wicket or the retirement of a batter, the incoming batter must, unless Time has been called, be ready to receive the ball, or for the other batter to be ready to receive the next ball within 3 minutes of the dismissal or retirement. If this requirement is not met, the incoming batter will be out, Timed out.”
The ICC World Cup 2023 Playing Conditions, however, had decided to trim it further to just two minutes. In a world where every second counts, Mathews found that those 60 seconds could mean the difference between a blockbuster knock and a walk back to the pavilion.
The all-rounder was on a sticky wicket when he walked in after Sadeera Samarawickrama’s departure, with the Lankan Tigers at 135 for four in 24.2 overs. Just when he was about to play a few tunes on the Shakib symphony, disaster struck as his helmet strap decided to snap. It chewed up precious seconds—the kind you can’t get back once you’ve spent them.
With a sly grin, Shakib casually strolled over to umpire Marais Erasmus (he was on television monitoring duty and passed on the verdict against Jonny Bairstow in the acrimonious Ashes second Test of 2023) and requested a little throwback to the obscure Timed Out Law. The dreaded finger was raised, and Mathews’ pleas fell flatter than a pancake on a griddle.
The Spirit of the Game debate, only invoked in the ‘Gentleman’s Game,’ was stoked again, and Shakib was everybody’s villain; much like Ravichandran Ashwin for his righteous stand of running a batter out for backing up at the non-striker’s end. The Spirit of the Game, though, can’t be a free pass to turn every cricketer’s lapse of attention into a heartwarming tale of forgiveness. But Mathews here was caught off guard by malfunctioning equipment, and Shakib could have been everybody’s hero with a smidge of leniency.
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