This is an absolutely bonkers story out of a lower Australian club league.
It seems North Suburbs of the Queensland Premier Cricket first grade competition declared their first innings at 14-1 in order to manipulate the final league standings. (Declaration is when a team says they don’t want to bat anymore. It usually happens when a team is way, way ahead and they are worried about running out of time to bowl the other side out.)
The team they were playing, University of Queensland, had racked up a score of 675-1 so North gifted them the innings bonus in order to avoid playing them again in the semi-finals.
This is not against the rules. A team, in First Class cricket, can declare whenever the hell they want. But after University complained, North were said to have violated, wait for it, “the spirit of the game” and University were only given 5 points for the innings bonus as opposed to the usual 12, so North they will play them in the semi-final, which North were of course trying to avoid.
Now, ignoring the fact UQ batted for 175 overs in a thinly veiled attempt to strangle the game into a draw which was somehow totally okay, this is one of those random cricket idiosyncrasies that confound folks that are new to the game, and fill old timers with joy at how the game never does cease to surprise. There a lot of rules to the game, like any game, but teams are always finding loopholes and it’s a real joy when one does.
But at the same time, what the heck? It’s not against any of the actual rules but it violated some random “spirit”? Oh, cricket, you are ridiculous most days, but on days like this you really do outdo yourself. I mean, we can’t expect the rule-makers to think of every loophole and proactively reach out to stop it, but what we can expect is for, well, the taste-makers, for lack of a better word, to not punish squads for violating a law that doesn’t even exist. I mean, it’s not cheating if it’s not against the rules! The best course would have been to clutch your pearls and then change the rules the next day, not punish the squad (and rather draconically, too, I mean, they also docked North 12 points from next season’s total!).
Oh, cricket. You never cease to amaze.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the “spirit of cricket,” I think it gives the game a bit of, well, politeness that you just don’t get otherwise. And I honestly cannot think of anything like the above happening in American sports. Teams cheat all the time and are caught all the time. And sometimes that cheating happens on a rule that doesn’t exist. But never have I witnessed a team punished for violating some touchy-feely “spirit.” It makes cricket stand out. I like that.
Cricket, what the heck?