No-Ball Row: A Blot That’ll Always Remain in MS Dhoni’s Record
Scene: Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings
Venue: Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Date: 11 April 2019
MS Dhoni scored a half-century. He played a rescued knock like only he could, and the Chennai Super Kings went on to win the match. MS Dhoni was declared the player of the match. All reasons to celebrate.
But then MS Dhoni also did something else at a crucial stage in the match – one ball after he was dismissed, he walked out to the middle again – to remonstrate with the umpires about an incorrect decision. That act is a definite no-no; no matter who you are and how big your stature in the game, you cannot charge to the middle and question the umpires. That was disappointing to see, from one of cricket’s jewels.
MS Dhoni has built a reputation over the years; he has earned the moniker ‘Captain Cool’ because he is mostly in control of proceedings and over his emotions. Unlike other captains, one doesn’t see him wear his frustrations on his face or react instantly.
Not on Thursday night though, when one could see he was visibly agitated over an umpiring error and stormed onto the field.
Ulhas Gandhe – the former Vidarbha cricketer, who was making his IPL debut as umpire – erred by signalling No-Ball to a delivery which was higher than the waist of the batsman. In ideal circumstances, the call should have initially been made by the Umpire at the Striker’s End and then been repeated by the Umpire at the Bowler’s End.
The situation turned controversial because after putting his hand out instantly – perhaps out of habit, Umpire Gandhe didn’t repeat the signal after the ball was dead because he didn’t get the support he expected from his partner Bruce Oxenford. The confusion in Umpire Gandhe’s mind and him not repeating the signal meant the following delivery wouldn’t be a Free Hit – a huge advantage for the batting side (CSK) to have at that situation in the game.
To make matters worse, the hooter at the venue went off instantly, confirming the following delivery would be a Free Hit. There was still no signal from the Umpire.
It was for the two batsmen in the middle – Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner – to seek clarity on the situation. It was none of MS Dhoni’s business – even given the fact that he was the Chennai Super Kings captain – to storm out to the middle and interfere.
A cricket match played at a professional level is governed by Laws of cricket, Playing Conditions and Code of Conduct for Players, Match Officials and Support Staff. None of the literature allows the captain, or any personnel of the batting side, to storm onto the pitch during play and protest an Umpiring decision.
That it would be tolerated if players walked onto the pitch and questioned a decision made by the two gentlemen appointed to govern the game? Definitely not!
It was later announced that MS Dhoni was charged for Code of Conduct breach and fined 50% of his match fee; his storming onto the field was an act that definitely merited some punishment or fine.
For all you know, MS Dhoni is already repenting what he did. However, it will forever remain a blot on his career, and a stigma attached to his otherwise impeccable reputation as captain. Ask Sunil Gavaskar, who, incensed with an incorrect LBW call, attempted to leave the MCG with his Chetan Chauhan in tow; many years later, that incident is always brought up in the context of thorny affairs in India-Australia cricket.