A welcome sign of good sportsmanship

I have been bemoaning the poor sportsmanship that is everywhere visible and how it has also encroached the once-genteel world of cricket where ‘sledging’ and generally churlish behavior have become increasingly common. So it is a pleasure for me to report on an incident of good sportsmanship that I observed yesterday.

It occurred on the second day of the second Test match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand played in Wellington. At the end of the first day, Sri Lanka was reeling with a score of 78 for 5 wickets in response to New Zealand’s modest score of 221. But the veteran Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara batted through most of the second day, playing with a grim determination mixed with flashes of brilliance and scored a mammoth 203 runs out of a Sri Lankan total of 356 before getting out to an outstanding catch by Trent Boult.

Upon his dismissal, it was nice to see all the New Zealand cricketers going up to shake his hand and congratulate him and the New Zealand home crowd giving him a warm and generous standing ovation as he walked back to the pavilion, even though he had completely changed the fortunes of the game against the home team. A great performance by a great player should be something that gladdens the heart of any fan of any sport, even if the effort is against your own side, and the New Zealand players and fans must be commended for showing true sportsmanship.

It has been some time since I watched a five-day Test cricket match for large blocks of time and I had forgotten how absorbing it can be. The time difference with New Zealand makes it particularly convenient to watch, since according to US Eastern time, the day’s play begins at 5:00 pm and ends at midnight, and so I have been following the Test series there. There is something about the rhythm of the game, its overall slow tempo mixed with flashes of intense excitement, the graceful style of a great batsman countering the smooth delivery of good fast bowlers and the guile of the spinners, that is truly engrossing to the aficionado.


  1. Matt says

    I am visiting friends in Australia in February and am attending the opening match between Australia and England. I know nothing about cricket. Could you point me to a good resource to learn enough about it to enjoy myself at the match?

  2. AMartin says

    @Matt: Below is a concise explanation of cricket.

    You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
    When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.
    When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

    (There is one modification for the World Cup game you will attend: both sides go in only once).

  3. Mano Singham says


    You are in luck! In 2006, I wrote a post just for people like you!

    p.s. It looks like you will be attending a World Cup game and that takes the form of each team batting a single innings and facing 50 overs or 300 balls. The side that scores the most runs in the allotted number of deliveries wins, but the rest of the game is unchanged from what I describe in that post.

  4. says

    Since we’re on feel-good stories, from the Ukranian premier league. A goalkeeper’s knee to the head of an opponent causes a seizure. The goalkeeper’s teammate recognizes immediately what happens and intervenes to save his life. His fingers probably hurt like hell for days.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    mnb0: There was a match years ago, in which Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler went down in the opposing team’s penalty area. The ref called a penalty, but Fowler strongly argued that he had just slipped on his own. Unfortunately, the ref refused to change his mind. Some people just can’t admit they were wrong.

  6. fwtbc says

    I don’t recall who it was, but I distinctly remember watching the cricket when I was younger, and one of the fielders took a rather enthusiastic diving catch and the umpire declared the batsman out. And even though the nature of the catch made it difficult, if not impossible to clearly see this, the fielder approached the umpire and said the ball had touched the ground and the catch was thus invalid.

    I don’t watch sport these days, and I fear such honourable behaviour would be far less common today.

  7. filethirteen says

    Interesting that you should mention it, that test finally renewed my support for NZ cricket (I am a New Zealander).

    Years ago I was appalled when NZ “ran out” Muralitharan, who had only left his crease to congratulate his partner Sangakkara’s hundred. Fleming, the NZ captain at the time, said he didn’t have anything to regret, that he was within his rights to do it, and step out of your crease and that’s what you get. He’s never changed that stance. I thought it against the spirit of the game and swore at that time I wouldn’t support New Zealand cricket again until there had been a change of attitude.

    Years later, NZ captain Vettori *did* recall an English batsman (Collingwood?) who was run out when he thought the end of the over had been called and stepped out of his crease, and I almost went back to supporting New Zealand then. But there had still been no apology to Murali, and I had got used to supporting NZ’s opponents.

    Now, however, there does seem to have been that shift in attitude. I still would like to see Murali given an apology but I’m prepared to support NZ again as long as this era of better sportsmanship continues.

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