'Now you have a third umpire, you can ask for a review'

Former India cricketers Chetan Chauhan and Karsan Ghavri, who witnessed Gavaskar's flying temper against Australia at the MCG Test in 1981, recall the incident and say there's no room for error in today's cricket.

The Bangladesh players broke into celebrations as soon as Mahmudullah cleared the boundary to chase down 160, with a ball to spare, against Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo on Friday.   -  ICC

As the cricketing fraternity appears divided over Shakib Al Hasan threatening a walk-out during Bangladesh’s Nidahas Trophy fixture against Sri Lanka on Friday, the incident has reminded some of India’s former cricketers back to a similar incident that happened on a February afternoon in 1981.

At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, 37 years ago, a similar controversy had erupted when an agitated India captain Sunil Gavaskar almost decided to walk out, in protest against an umpiring decision. This happened during India’s third Test against Australia, when Gavaskar was given leg-before off Dennis Lillee.

READ: Storm before calm, Shakib threatens walkout before sense prevails

Gavaskar was confident that he was not out but decided to crosscheck with his non-striking partner Chetan Chauhan. “Gavaskar was batting like a champion. In the delivery he was given out, there was an edge. He came and asked me if it was indeed an out. I said, it wasn’t,” a nostalgic Chauhan tells Sportstar.

A few seconds later, a furious Gavaskar asked Chauhan to join him in the dressing room. “He told me that the Aussies are cheats, and asked if we should protest. I told him, 'You are the captain, you decide.’ and in no time, both of us were heading towards the dressing room. Gavaskar was extremely frustrated,” Chauhan reminisces.

Australian pacer Dennis Lillee went down the wicket to point at the area, on the pad, where he said he trapped Gavaskar (right).   -  AP

 

The two would have ultimately walked out had the then team manager, Wing Commander Shahid Ali Khan Durrani, a strict disciplinarian, not intervened. “We had nearly two days of cricket left and we had already added some 160-run lead, so in my head, I did not want to walk out, but decided to slowly walk with the captain. Near the boundary rope, Mr Durrani and Dileep Vengsarkar — who was all padded up to come next —stopped us and told Gavaskar that we should go back and play. Ultimately, he cooled down,” Chauhan adds.

Chauhan’s team-mate and another member of the team, Karsan Ghavri, claims that Gavaskar was ticked off more because of some cuss words from Lillee and Greg Chappell.

“Sunil did not get too many runs, so he was desperate to score a century. When the controversial decision was given, there was an eerie silence in the dressing room as none could figure out what was happening. I’m sure Lillee, Chappell and others must have abused Gavaskar badly, and that’s why he got angry,” Ghavri says, adding: “He was irritated firstly because of the umpiring decision and secondly, due to the abusive behaviour of the Aussies.”

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While both Chauhan and Ghavri feel that such reactions happen at the heat of the moment, they agree that cricketers should ideally obey the umpire’s decision to maintain the spirit of the game. “It all happens at the heat the moment. No one does it purposely. Once they go out, things cool off. It is simple — umpires are the best judge on the pitch, so once decision is given, go by it,” Ghavri says.

As a piece of advice to Shakib, Chauhan says, “It is definitely frustrating as a cricketer, but you have to accept it, because otherwise you are liable to be fined. You are protesting against officials. Now you have a third umpire, you can ask for review. There’s not much room for error now.”

“It was even tough in our times. You were frustrated yet you could not show your annoyance.,” the former cricketer, however, adds as an afterthought.