The Spirit of Cricket

It’s been a while since I wrote about cricket on the blog. Heck, it’s been a while since I wrote anything on the blog.

But the latest Men’s Ashes hullabaloo got me thinking, especially since it touches on some issues and themes I’m exploring in the next couple of Alice Henderson books.

Those issues and themes are encompassed by what is known as ‘The Spirit of Cricket’.

Which, is sort of Dickensian way of saying ‘keeping to the olde traditions of the gentleman’s game’. Or not abusing the laws of the game to win the game, something like that. I think.

Quick update, if you’re unaware of the latest thing for the Poms to be angry at us about.

Alex Carey stumped Jonny Bairstow on Day 5 of the Second Test, when England were looking like they might hang on to win the match. That doesn’t sound bad, really, does it?

But due to Carey not standing up to the stumps at the time, it was more akin to a run-out. And Bairstow apparently thought the ball was dead, so he went for a wander down the pitch, as batters do between overs. Because the ball wasn’t, in fact dead, Carey got him out. Fair and square to the letter of the law.

It’s important to note that the dismissal was a legal dismissal.

But the argument against it is the ‘vibe’. That it was against the ‘Spirit of Cricket.’

Which seems to constantly move, depending on who you are and who you’re playing for and how it affects the match in question.

To be totally honest, if it’s a law in the game and a legal dismissal, then there should be no problem with it.

Would I be upset if an Aussie was dismissed in the same fashion?

Of course I would, but I’d also be wondering what on earth the batter was thinking to make such an amateur mistake.

It’s essentially a moral dilemma, isn’t it?

One that we can all say ‘Well, I would have done it differently’ as we take some sort of moral high ground in a hypothetical situation that we’d probably never be put in ourselves. And I have no doubt that we honestly think we would make a different choice.

But would we, really? In the heat of the moment, and in the midst of a contest, would we really, honestly be in the frame of mind to not make the same choice?

Who knows?

And that’s the point, really.

We should be judging the decision on its own merits.

Was it within the laws of the game?


Was it within the bounds of what that team was asked to do, aka win a test match?

Also yes.

In the end, the laws of the game exist to take the ambiguity out of it, and this is one of those cases. Umpires aren’t tasked with making a moral an ethical decision. They’re tasked with upholding the laws of the game as they currently stand.

They did that. Had the umpires decided that the ball was dead, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

In the end though, really, the ‘Spirit of the Game’ is an ambiguous notion that floats above the laws of the game. It’s supposed to be some sort of moral and ethical guide on how to play the game in the best way possible.

But it’s also different depending on which team you play for and which end of a decision you find yourself on.

This is a theme Alice will grapple with in the final two books in the series as she heads towards the pinnacle of every cricketer’s career – professionalism.

Will she be the player who walks? Will she wait for the umpire’s decision? Will she withdraw an appeal or not affect a run-out when an opposition player slips and falls, even when the game hangs in the balance?

Even I don’t know the answer to those questions yet.

Only Alice will, and she’ll make a decision when the time comes I guess.

In the mean time, the Aussie women’s team are back in action in the remaining T20I’s and the upcoming ODI’s to round out the  Women’s Ashes campaign.

Already 6 points to nil up in the series (a situation that doesn’t do justice to the tight contests we’ve seen so far) where they only require 8 points to retain the trophy, they’re on track to not only retain the Ashes, but to win it comfortably.

The next T20I is on Thursday morning (3am start). I won’t be getting up to watch it but will be watching the reply without checking the result first, so no spoilers!

Oh, and by they way? The ebook of the first story in the Alice Henderson series, Alice Henderson On Debut, is on sale for 99c for the foreseeable future. You can grab it at:

You can also grab a signed and personalised copy directly from me. You can do that here.

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