Sunday, February 1, 2009

Haddin and Jordon

Following Brad Haddin's involvement in Neil Broom's controversial dismissal yesterday, it's time for a trip down memory lane to a similar and much more flagrant incident, which happened almost 40 years ago during Australia's 1969-70 tour of India. The tour stood out as Australia's only series win in India for 35 years, but was overshadowed by controversy and violence.

The First Test in Bombay had seen Australia take a first innings lead. The match was marred by a controversial umpiring decision on the fourth day when Srinivas Venkataraghavan was given out caught behind after missing the ball by roughly a foot, a decision that most of the Australians felt to be wrong. In the meantime, the public address system declared that Lawry and his men had cheated. It resulted in crowd rioting; The spectators lit fires and threw projectiles after Lawry refused to adjourn the match, contrary to police advice that warned them to run for their lives. During the chaos, Johnny Gleeson was hit in the head by a bottle, and when the teams left the field at the end of the Indian innings, Lawry was hit by a flying chair. Australia went on to win the match and more trouble came in the Fourth Test at Eden Gardens.

A surge in the demand for tickets caused a last day stampede, which resulted in running battles between fans and police, leaving six dead and hundred injured. This was exacerbated by protests by the Communist Party of India (CPI), a major political party in West Bengal, against Doug Walters. Walters had been conscripted during the Vietnam War, although he was never sent to Vietnam to fight against the CPI's Vietcong brethen. Nevertheless, CPI activists erected posters across the city claiming that Walters was a killer and around 10,000 communists picketed the Australian hotel and some eventually broke in and vandalised it.

On the field, there were more riots following an Indian batting collapse. Spectators on the top deck of the stands threw rocks onto those below, prompting those in the lower positions to invade the playing arena. This interrupted Australia's successful run-chase. During the stoppage, Lawry had an on-field altercation with a local photographer who had run onto the ground, pushing the pressman away with his bat. The Indian newspapers reported that Lawry had knocked the man over and then hit him. Lawry and his batting partner Keith Stackpole claimed that he had tried to shepherd the photographer from the playing area, who then stumbled and fell. In any case, the crowd responded by stoning the Australian bus as they left the ground following their victory, having taken an unassailable 2-1 series lead. Following the incident, the Indian media began to wear black armbands.

Thus to the wicket-keeping incident, which occurred in the following match against South Zone at Bangalore.

Alan Connolly was bowling medium pace off-cutters to Indian off spinner Erapalli Prasanna, with Australia's reserve wicketkeeper Ray Jordon standing up to the stumps. Prasanna heaved at one of the deliveries, and after an apparently long delay, the bails fell to the ground.

Jordon claimed that Connolly had bowled Prasanna. Prasanna disagreed and stood his ground, and the umpires and other players were not offering an opinion one way or the other. However, Prasanna eventually walked after Jordon repeatedly insisted that he was out.

According to Ashley Mallett, the ball appeared to go down the leg side and then the leg stump pushed forward! Ian Chappell reported in one of his books, Long Hops and Larrikins, that Doug Walters had informed him that the ball had missed the stumps by a notable margin, bounced off Jordon's pads and back onto the stumps, with Prasanna's leg firmly rooted behind the line.

The Australians then had an altercation in the dressing room after some members, foremost among them Chappell, accused Jordon of cheating. Chappell (SA) reported that Jordon (VIC) accused him of being accustomed to cheating because it was a natural trait of South Australians to do so, further inflaming tensions among the tourists. (South Australia and Victoria are the two main states in Australia where Australian rules football dominates. Queensland and New South Wales prefer to play rugby. This has led to a rather bitter feeling of rivalry between a large proportion of sports oriented people from both pairs of states, especially magnified by the state of origin games, particularly among South Australians who feel that the more populous Victoria has undue influence and carriest itself in an arrogant manner.)

Nevertheless, such interstate tensions are always close to the surface, even if in a light-hearted manner. Mallett (SA) spoke at a recent cricket conference held in Adelaide during this season's Test match. The issue of India came up as the Mumbai bombings had occurred overnight. This was especially ironic as the convenor of the conference had made a speech the day before about Caucasian cricket nations being paranoid about safety in Asia. In any case, the tumultuous events of the 1969-70 tour came up in comparison to the terrorist bombings and Mallett was talking about notorious and successful appeal for caught behind against Venkat in the First Test in Bombay, alleging that the only Australians who appealed were "all Victorian"!

Eventually, nothing further came of the incident, after Bill Lawry stepped in and stopped the fighting. Jordon can count himself lucky that there was no meaningful television coverage of the event, let alone slow motion replays. If a replay of the incident had occurred on the giant screen at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, a large scale pitch invasion and attack on the players would have been almost inevitable, given the controversy and tumult that surrounded Australia's campaign. Aside from that, Jordon would probably have faced a ban for (flagrantly) dishonest conduct, if his career had not already been terminated by broken limbs from mob justice.

However, a week later, Mallett reported to Chappell that Jordon had been sleeptalking and apologising about his illegitimate intervention in Prasanna's dismissal.

The latest incident is another reason for the increasing use of technology. In recent ICC trials of the challenge and referral system, there was a notable decline in the amount of nonsensical and pot luck appeals, which would indicate that not all appeals are spontaneous, nor are their magnitude. At the very least, it would prevent dubious decisions such as in Sydney last year or yesterday, that have the ability to inflame tensions across society. Whether Haddin engaged in foul play or not may be hard to ascertain, but at least naked dishonesty in the manner of Jordon is no longer possible. Hopefully in future, such incidents become rarer yet.


Anonymous said...

As always YM an engaging read.

It would seem that the old French adage,'plus ça change' still rings true as I suspect it always will.

Samir Chopra said...

YM: Fantastic story. I'd never read about this before. Thanks very much.

straight point said...

riveting tale YM!

i too never heard of this incident before...

Jrod said...

Slug Jordon is a legend in Victoria. For years he was on a sports radio show in the mornings.

This was one of, about a hundred dodgy dismissals he was involved with, the only reason this one is important is because Chappell said he would drop himself if Slug ever played for Australia, and he was one hell of a keeper.

But he was even better as a football coach.

The ultimate story was of him coaching an under 18 side, and he used this trick alot, and he only really coached kids.

After they lost a game they should have won he sat them all down, asked if they were ok and then said "don't worry about it, get a rub down, have a shower, put on some nice smelling stuff, go out and have a nice dinner, have a few drinks, have a dance, find a lady, take her home, do her, get her pregnant, offer to marry her, then get a job, one that means you have to work on saturdays, because none of you bastards can play footy anyway" and then walked out of the room.

Kartikeya Date said...

Those were altogether more straightforward times.. when you could call and spade a spade. None of this Orwellian newspeak - "Be nice to me", "How can you possibly use those words"..

It was a time when a fight was a fight, and a cheat was a cheat. Much nicer in my view.

YellowMonkey said...

For more info, go to Wikipedia's article on Bill Lawry. It's reliable I wrote it from proper references, and go to google books and look up "one of a kind" by Ashley Mallett and read the Indian tour section.

Gleeson claimed that he threatened to hit the umpires in the head if they gave him out and then padded every ball. Ashok Mankad reported told Mallett that the Indians switched the pitch in the middle of the Delhi Test!

Also added that Jordon started sleeptalking after the dismissal, according to Mallett and Chappell.

Anonymous said...

Mebbe I'm a bit dense, but why would you add that to Lawry's biog when it's an anecdote about Jordon, and it's not in Jordon's biog?

Anonymous said...

Mebbe I'm a bit dense, but why would you add that to Lawry's biog when it's an anecdote about Jordon, and it's not in Jordon's biog?

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