Whatever the outcome of this India-Australia Test series might be; there is one thing that it will certainly be remembered for' the revival of the sporting spirit. This was something legendary in the good old cricketing days and there is a threat of it disappearing altogether in the wanting to win at any cost environment of the 21st century.
The Aussies who are known for their aggressive brand of cricket have strangely been the ones to set the standards in this series. The first guy to be credited with the revival of this gentlemanly brand of cricket is Jason Gillespie. During the first test match in Bangalore, Gillespie started walking even as umpire, Steve Bucknor, was shaking his head denying the appeal from the Indians. All eyes were on Bucknor who changed his decision only after registering Jason's sporting action. Most papers gave it worthy mention the following day.
Gillespie's compatriots have continued the tradition in the second test match that is being played at Chennai presently. Three of them walked on Day 1, even before the umpire's finger went up and Yuvraj Singh taking the cue from the sporty rivals, did the same. It must have been a form of the ripple effect, and a very good thing for the game of cricket or for any other game for that matter.
There are many cricketing greats known for their sporting attitude toward the game. Gundappa Vishwanath was one such- legendary for his sense of fair- play. Whilst captaining India in the Centenary Test against England in 1980, Vishy recalled Bob Taylor, who had been wrongly given out. The funny thing that happened was that Taylor went on to make a century, helping England clinch the test! On another occasion, when Vishy had been caught low down in the slips (India versus England in 1979), he asked the fielder in question whether he had taken a clear catch because the umpires were unable to arrive at a verdict. On the fielder replying in the affirmative, Gundappa started walking. These are just a few of the instances when this great cricketer conveyed a lesson about the spirit of the game to his teammates and the cricket-crazy Indian public.
As much as the Aussies have set a good example by displaying sportsmanship in this series, there are times when they have displayed infamous behavior, particularly with regard to sledging. One such instance was that of Glen McGrath's relentless verbal onslaught against Sarwan of the West Indies. After staying silent for a while, Sarwan started giving back as good as he got even going down to the level of mentioning McGrath's wife, who is suffering from cancer. Glen could not handle that remark and millions of TV viewers across the world became witness to a sordid drama on the field, which completely took away from the spirit of the game.
There is another interesting sporting tale about West Indian bowler, Courtney Walsh, refusing to stump Pakistani cricketer, Abdul Quadir, who had moved out of the crease at the non-striker's end. Pakistan won this 1988 World Cup match against the West Indians but it was Walsh who became the toast of Pakistan.
The game of cricket is replete with many such sporting incidents, which have been compiled for viewing in a series titled Golden Moments. The fact that such incidents bear the title of Golden indicates the inherent sense of fairness in human beings that values such moments. Perhaps the need to publicize them, stems from the fact that they are not so commonplace.
At a time when sport is threatened by unhealthy competition resulting in doping and other unfair practices, it is hoped that such golden moments will inspire present and future generations of sportspersons. There is the sportsman's prayer that says: When the Great Scorer comes to write, He will not write whether you won or lost, but how you played the game. Perhaps there is a lesson in this for the game of life as well.