Adam Gilchrist warns Brendon McCullum: ‘Don’t set yourself up for a fall’
DUBAI // Adam Gilchrist, the former Australia wicketkeeper, says Brendon McCullum could be setting himself and his teammates up to fail by his strong stance on the spirit of cricket.
In his column in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper on Monday, McCullum said Australia’s captain Steve Smith had been “immature” and missed a chance to “strike a blow for the spirit of cricket” at the weekend.
Smith opted not to withdraw a successful appeal for Ben Stokes to be given out for obstructing the field in the second one-day international between Australia and England.
The England batsman had blocked the path of the ball with his hand when Mitchell Starc, the bowler, had attempted to run him out.
The New Zealand captain suggested Smith will “live to regret his decision” and said the same thing would not have happened on his watch.
“As for the current New Zealand side, I reckon none of us would have appealed in the first place,” McCullum wrote.
“I’m not trying to set us up as being holier-than-thou. I just know how much we’ve discussed the way we want to play the game.
“Something would have told us that appealing for obstructing the field in those circumstances wasn’t right.”
Despite having no involvement other than being employed as a newspaper columnist during the Ashes, McCullum was often cited for having a positive impression on it, and the game in general.
He won much praise for the conduct of his New Zealand side both in reaching the World Cup final earlier this year and the series against England at the start of the summer.
Many observers suggested it would benefit the game if the subsequent Ashes series was played in a similar vein.
It led Darren Lehmann, Australia’s coach, to write on the team instruction board at a training session ahead of the series – presumably in jest – “remember, no sledging”.
The Ashes Tests passed without any evidence of the on-field angst that usually characterises meetings between Australia and England.
However, Gilchrist says that was more a consequence of the general poor performances of the batsmen than any concerted effort on either side’s part.
“There weren’t many ugly confrontations – if any – in the Ashes, primarily because there weren’t many batsmen out there long enough to engage in any of that stuff,” said Gilchrist, speaking at the University of Wollongong in Dubai.
“They were sitting back in the pavilion, so dominant was the ball over the bat generally.
“It is a dangerous game to start saying we are going to sledge, or we are not going to. There is a lot of emotion involved, a lot of work, commitment and sacrifice. I just think teams should go out there, play hard and fair and we will get pulled up if we don’t.
“I applaud Brendon if he has made a conscious effort to do that, but in this day and age you could be setting yourself and your teammates up to fail.
“Cynics out there will watch and wait, and as soon as you slip up, they will pin you. Just let it happen naturally.”
Gilchrist was well-regarded during his career for his sportsmanlike attitude on the field. In 2004, he was accused of staging a walking “crusade” by the then-New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and pressuring others to walk.
It came after an incident that was caught on microphone between Gilchrist and McCullumn, after the latter had chosen not to walk after an apparent inside edge was caught by the Australian.
His own captain, Ricky Ponting, defended Gilchrist, saying he did not expect his teammates to follow his lead, let alone opponents.
Gilchrist has no regrets from his playing days. He says, though, the series between India and Australia in 2008 – particularly the Sydney Test, which had the explosive row between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds – was an ugly time for his team.
“We were branded as being unsporting and said to be appealing for things we knew weren’t out,” Gilchrist said.
“I refute that to this day. We all reacted pretty strongly post that to some of the reaction in the press.
“Would you change anything? I don’t think it is about regretting things. You can’t change anything. You can learn from it, and if you feel next time you need to react any differently you do.”
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Updated: September 7, 2015 04:00 AM