Split second splits
In 1999, the cricketing world witnessed one of the greatest one day games in the history of cricket, when Alan Donald ball-watched and gave-away
My name shall be remembered in the history of MOCL and MCT leagues for at least two decades for the one split second, stupid single person mistake. Scoring 115 on a relatively slow outfield damped by intermittent showers in the first 20-20 over game, I, being a captain had a huge task in hand to carry the good batting of mine worthy enough, and a team packed with young blood to win against a power hitting team. 17 overs into the game, as a smart captain, I managed to rotate bowlers and set fielders in great potential to take 6 feathers of the team. With three overs remaining and 21 runs to take, and only two overs from two experienced bowlers in hand, I had to gamble and brought the part timer. Though his first ball four eased the pressure of the batting side, a strong word with him, an action of confidence and assurance of bowling at specific locations (by giving him signs standing behind the sticks), we managed to get the equation in par. An over later, and several smart captaining moves, the equation ended as 4 runs to win from 6 balls with two wickets in hand.
Opting for the most experienced bowler in the team, who for the first time kept aside his experience and listened to my comments and bowled extraordinarily the first two balls, the equation was reduced to 2 runs from 3 balls. A well said bouncer, unfortunately edged the high bat and streaked high behind me. A well timed jump made me touch it at least from the tip of my fingers to save the runs. A wide angle collect from the fielder and dive to the stumps ensured a wicket and 1 run of 2 balls.
In came the next batsmen who eventually was accompanied by the opponent captain as a by-runner coz of his injury. An acceptance from me and a warning to the leg umpire and a word of caution to my vice captain that ‘make sure that he doesn’t run before ball is being hit in the bat’ settled the game back to track.
Ball 5 was a bouncer as planned, a miss from the batsmen, a collect from me, a run to the stumps and no run from the team. Now the equation was 1 run from 1 ball. Extreme pressure on both teams. If, I wasn’t wearing the keeper gloves, I would have ate all the ten finger nails in seconds. I ran to the stumps, called the close standing short mid-on and short mid-off players and told them that, “I’ll throw the ball as soon as I collect it to you guys. Make sure the one in front of the stumps collect it and take the bails off”
Another bouncer delivered, a miss, a collect of the white ball with soft hands, a run towards the wickets, I seeing the batsmen ball-watching as it came to me, and at the background the non striker pacing up towards the batting end. A sense of “The batsmen is still here, and the leg umpire is not a neutral umpire. Just throw it past the batsmen towards the bowling end slow and steady” zipped in a micro second through my mind. A slow jump and a slow throw towards the bowler were perfectly crafted.
“Hari, hit at your end! Hit the sticks! Take the bails off! Your end Hari!” bellowed in my ears as the ball I threw, sailed towards the bowler slowly. Then complete silence. My eyes narrowed on the dark blue jersey with white pads running towards the bowlers side 10 feet away and grounding the bat on the crease. A jubilant smile appeared in his face. Complete blankness, and a view of my most experienced bowler glaring at me in anger. My eyes focused on the ball held in his hand and the non striker coming to me with the most broad smile he can ever produce and comment, “I thought I was out! Why didn’t you take the bails here itself?”
My shocked response, “I forgot all about the by runner!” and I collapsed on my knees on the pitch, head down onto the pitch. ‘How? How did I forget about the by runner? Aarrrggghhhh! After a great knock with the bat and being a smart captain, and Oh Shit… Being a captain, how can I do that?’ was the thought that hit me. In seconds, I was pulled from the ground by not one, but ten men, with shocked yet smiling faces, and each one asked, “What happened there?” and before I answered to their disbelief, I heard, “Happens Hari”
In the next four hours of dining and driving, I was joked, mocked, ridiculed and rode by the team. But, the one most important thing they did was they understood the split second mistake and accepted it as it came. None were sad that they lost the game, but were happy about the fight they gave and how awesome the game ended. I knew I screwed up the game which should have gone in for our first ever bowl out. In two hours, after I reached
I was then, Alan Donald of 2008, of
An exact contrast to this happened the very next day, when we played our arch rivals on the regular 35 over game, and in this case, taking a no-way-dive-catch coz of a split second “now or never” decision ended up in a shocker of a dive catch from me. Four overs later, a split second conclusion on the way the relay has to work ended up in me racing ten yards towards the fielder, collecting the wide feeble throw in one bounce, turn back, run towards the sticks by 4 yards, and diving forward and under-arming a run out to take the wicket of a good batsman. A minute later I realized, “Split second decisions just control the success and failure rates of ones life! Either you screw up or you become legendary” Certain things cannot be controlled and split second decisions are one of those things.