IPL 2019: Ashwin will realise his mistake later, says Saleem Jaffar

Saleem Jaffar recollects the time when a certain Courtney Walsh refused to run him out, that too, in a crucial group league fixture of the 1987 World Cup.

Former Pakistan fast bowler Saleem Jaffar.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The cricket world appears divided on whether Ravichandran Ashwin was justified in Mankading Jos Buttler in an Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture on Monday.

But Saleem Jaffar knows what it feels like when an opponent cricketer chooses path of sportsmanship over winning and keeps the ‘spirit of the game’ alive!

A former Pakistan fast bowler, Jaffar recollects the time when a certain Courtney Walsh refused to run him out, that too, in a crucial group league fixture of the 1987 World Cup.

That decision eventually cost West Indies a berth in the semifinals, but Walsh went on to become one of the ambassadors of fair play.

“In that era, each and every player had character. This gesture shows how strong the cricketers were then. Cricket is a gentleman’s game and we should maintain that even now,” Jaffar told Sportstar from Dallas late on Tuesday.

READ: Ashwin under spotlight in KKR, Kings XI clash

In 1987, it was a group league fixture against West Indies at Lahore, which went down the wire. With Pakistan requiring 14 runs off the last over, Walsh was entrusted with the responsibility to defend the total.

For Pakistan, tail-enders Abdul Qadir and Jaffar were at the crease. Before the final delivery - when Pakistan needed two runs to win - non-striker Jaffar took a start and was scampering even before Walsh had reached the bowling crease.

Walsh stopped in front of the wicket and warned Jaffar to return. There was every opportunity for the West Indies pace ace to dislodge the stumps, but he chose to give Jaffar a fair chance.

Though West Indies lost, Walsh was lauded for his ‘sportsmanship’ and was even appreciated by the Pakistan government.

“That was an important game for the West Indies. At that time, the rules for run out were different but even then, Walsh did not want to win a game by unfair means. He was a great bowler, he did not want to win it this way.”

Looking back at that incident 22 years later, Jaffar feels such a gesture is unthinkable in today’s times.

“In T20s, bowlers get only 24 balls and in such a short format, such behaviour is not expected. If they do not maintain the spirit the game then it doesn’t speak highly of their character,” Jaffar said, referring to Ashwin.

“He (Ashwin) is a great off-spinner, and given his stature, he could have stayed away from such a thing. I know, as per the law of the game, it is out, but then, why endorse such an act? Play to your strength, get them out genuinely,” Jaffar said.

“He (Ashwin) has a good image. Perhaps, it happened at the heat of the moment. But I am sure, Ashwin will realise his mistake later. It will hurt him in the future. It certainly wasn’t a good gesture by him,” the former cricketer said.

The 56-year-old Jaffer, who played in 14 Tests and 39 ODIs, also admitted that that extreme competitive environment has done the game more harm than good.

“In our times, cricket was more of a passion and not a profession. Now, it is more challenging and with the Boards introducing franchise leagues, everyone wants to win no matter what. It’s not a good sign as it takes away the charm,” Jaffar said, adding: “To me, it doesn’t look good to win a IPL group league match this way. It kills the spirit of the sport.”