Search This Blog


Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cameron Bancroft admits ball-tampering ~ and did Steve Smith knew it ??

In Cricket – shortleg is a specialist position, yet it is an unwritten rule that the man donning that position would be the junior in the team or the opener ! ..  controversies are not new to the game.. in 1983, Indians in Pakistan were bamboozled by big banana inswingers of Imrankhan  ~ there were comments that ball-tampering was rampant and that frontline Paki bowlers were overstepping by a big margin ~ and Umpires were not taking cognizance !!!

The 3rd Test at Capetown on day 3 is interestingly poised.  South Africa 311 & 238/5 * (72 ov); Australia – 255.  South Africa lead by 294 runs with 5 wickets remaining. ..

Cameron Timothy Bancroft   made his debut for Australia as a batsman/keeper in a T20I against India in Sydney early in 2016, but has played only one T20. Remember he made 150 in Chennai playing for Aussie A. Bancroft was then named in Australia's Test squad for the 2015 tour of Bangladesh, which was cancelled due to safety concerns, and he instead had to settle for another productive Shield campaign with 732 runs at 45.75.   At Capetown, Cameras focused on Bancroft, who put his hand in his pocket before appearing to work on the ball with the yellow object, before putting his hand back in his pocket. Some minutes later he could be seen taking the object from his pocket and dropping it down the front of his pants.  Day three of the third Test in Cape Town was beginning to get away from Australia with Aiden Markram dominating the second session, before the footage was replayed on broadcast. Umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth convened in the middle, before talking to Bancroft.

In the sport of cricket, ball tampering is an action in which a fielder illegally alters the condition of the ball. The primary motivation of ball tampering is to interfere with the aerodynamics of the ball.  Under Law 41, subsection 3 of the Laws of Cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal. Players allegedly resort to tampering the ball by rubbing the ball on the ground, scuffing with a fingernail or other sharp object, or tampering with the seam of the ball or using abrasive sand sheet.

Cameron Bancroft, the Australia opener, was spoken to by the on-field umpires after television cameras captured him holding a foreign object when working on the ball during the second session on day three of the Newlands Test. A small, yellow object was seen in Bancroft's hands after he had worked on the ball, and he was also captured taking it from his pocket and seeming to place it down his trousers. The footage showed Bancroft seeming to rub the rough side of the ball, the opposite side to which he would usually be trying to shine on his trousers, as is permitted under ICC playing conditions. He appeared to put the object down his pants apparently after being spoken to by the substitute Peter Handscomb, who had come on to the field after speaking to coach Darren Lehmann over walkie talkie. Lehmann seemed to speak to Handscomb after footage of Bancroft working on the ball was shown on the TV screens at the ground.

The umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth were then seen speaking with Bancroft, though they did not choose to change the ball nor penalise the Australians five runs - the statutory on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball.  Slow-motion replays, both on TV and broadcast on the big screen at Newlands, appeared to show Bancroft then putting the small object into his underwear in an apparent attempt to hide it.  The officials chose not to change the ball or penalise his team the statutory five-run on-field penalty for illegally changing the condition of the ball. Although the umpires appeared satisfied with Bancroft’s explanation on the field at the time and allowed play to continue, match officials could review other footage.

Reverse swing has been a major part of this series, and players can increase that by roughing up the ball with foreign objects, which is strictly prohibited in cricket. Australia, who are falling a long way behind in the game, appeared desperate for wickets to turn it around. Ball tampering has been an issue raised throughout Australia’s tour. In Port Elizabeth, Warner was highlighted for the impact of the bandages on his hand – the result of finger injuries suffered while batting – on the ball, and on day one in Cape Town Australia bowler Pat Cummins inadvertently stepped on the ball.

After the first Test in Durban Australia’s coach, Darren Lehmann, said both sides would try various “techniques” to get the ball to reverse swing. “Obviously, there are techniques used by both sides to get the ball reverse and that’s just the way the game goes,” Lehmann said after the Durban Test.  When Bancroft spoke to the umpires, he was shown holding a bigger, black cloth rather than the small yellow object he had earlier seemed to place down his trousers. Both South African and Australian commentators on the host broadcaster, SuperSport, said Bancroft's actions looked suspicious. "It is very suspicious. There is no doubt about that," Allan Border said. "If you're caught doing the wrong thing, you've got to pay the penalty."

The former South Africa captain Graeme Smith said he was surprised the umpires had not changed the ball. "In my opinion I think he's tampered with the ball and used an object to do that," Smith said. "It does look like it's a bit of sandpaper. The footage doesn't look good. I'm quite amazed the umpires haven't done anything with the ball. The footage is quite damning. Shane Warne, meanwhile, said it was unlikely that Bancroft had acted alone, without the knowledge of his captain and coach. "You've got to own up and say what was it that you were hiding," Warne said. "You can't have that in the game. We've got to get to the bottom of it. The Aussies have to be honest and say 'this is how it happened'." I don't have any issue with anyone if they are sucking on a mint or chewing some gum, then that's just natural saliva.

Australia's bowlers had been able to gain pronounced reverse swing on day three in Cape Town, though South Africa continued to build their second-innings lead. Questions about ball tampering have been raised throughout the series, where reverse swing has been a consistent theme.  Ball tampering has been at the centre on many earlier occasions too.  To recall a few, in  2010 England were implicated in a ball-tampering storm – a miserable third day of the third Test ended with England staring at a series-leveling defeat and Andy Flower, their coach, being forced to defend their integrity over claims that Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson had cheated. South Africa ‘made their concerns known’ to match referee Roshan Mahanama over the state of a ball with which they believe Broad attempted to tamper by treading on it at an early stage of the South African second innings.

Pakis had the knack of making ball talk with reverse swing and many past cricketers had expressed doubts on that.  The big burly Sarfraz Nawaz, sued former England batsman Allan Lamb for writing in the Daily Mirror that more than 20 years ago Nawaz invented an illegal trick to make cricket balls swing wide and late, deceiving batsmen, a technique refined by his successors into widespread cheating by the international team last summer.  During a cricket match against Pakistan, Faf du Plessis of South Africa was filmed repeatedly rubbing the ball on the zip of his trouser pocket. As punishment he was docked half his match fee, his team was penalised five runs and the umpires ordered the ball to be changed. The  other time in the history of the sport that a team has been formally reprimanded for "ball-tampering" was in 2006 when the umpires ruled that Pakistani players had doctored the condition of the ball during a game against England. The Pakistan team, in protest, refused to return to the field after a tea break and forfeited the match.

So ~ what really happened – did Bancroft tamper the ball – and was it a solitary act or backed by the Team and Coach .. helping their bowlers to get undue advantage ?  ~  as I post this, read on web that Cameron Bancroft has admitted to trying to change the condition of the ball using a foreign object ..and a contrite Steven Smith admitted to the team management knowing that !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Mar 2018.

Afghan qualifies ~ Stuie Broad takes 400; Morne Morkel 300 ..

At Auckland – England had the ignominy of being bowled out for paltry 58 – yet there was something to succor .. Stuart Broad becoming the youngest fast  bowler to take 400 test wickets.  Broad achieved it at 31 years, 271 days on day one in Auckland. The previous youngest was Dale Steyn at 32 years, 33 days, when he got to the milestone against Bangladesh in 2015. Among all bowlers, only Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh have reached 400 at a younger age than Broad. Muralitharan, at 29 years, 270 days, is the youngest to 400 Test wickets overall. Broad is the second England bowler, after James Anderson, and the 15th  overall to take 400 wickets.

The group that he has joined is elite indeed ~ it has Muthiah Muralitharan (800 from 133 tests); Shane Warne (708/145); Anil Kumble (619/132); Glenn Mcgrath (563/124); Jimmy Anderson (526/135); Courtney Walsh (519/132); Kapil Dev Nikhanj (434/131); Richard Hadlee (431/86); Shaun Pollock (421/108); Dale Steyn (419/86); Harbajan Singh (417/103); Wasim Akram (414/104); Curtly Ambrose (405/98) and SCJ Broad (400/115).

At Auckland on day 2 - only 23.1 overs were possible as steady rain prevented no more than 90 minutes of play. New Zealand's best Test batsman Kane Williamson,  brightened up a gloomy afternoon with his 18th  Test hundred, passing Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor to become the country's leading century-maker. He eventually fell for 102 shortly after the tea break, lbw to James Anderson, England's only wicket of the day.

At South Africa – more record with Dean Elgar becoming the first man in Test history to carry his bat through an innings twice in the same year, and also joining Desmond Haynes as the only men to have carried their bat three times in a Test career. It continued with Kagiso Rabada winning a breathless mini-battle with David Warner, and progressed further with Morne Morkel becoming the fifth South African to take 300 Test wickets. And the day was capped off by a counter-attack from Lyon and Tim Paine, whose 66-run ninth-wicket stand put Australia back in the contest.

Morne Morkel became  the fifth South African bowler to 300 Test wickets, after taking three wickets on the second day of the Newlands Test against Australia. Morkel's milestone came up in his 85th Test; at tea, his tally stood at 300 at an average of 28.07, in his final series as an international cricketer.  Sadly, Morkel will retire at the end of the ongoing series, and there is no guarantee he will feature in the fourth Test which has only made reaching the landmark all the more important. He was dropped for the second Test at St George's Park after a poor start in Durban, where he took three wickets but bowled better as the match went on, and is competing with Lungi Ngidi for a place in the starting XI.

Morkel may not even have played at Newlands, but Ngidi suffered a toe injury, which allowed the lanky quick the opportunity for a farewell in the city he has called home for the last three years. Morkel moved from Pretoria to Cape Town in 2015, and though he does not play for the Cobras domestic franchise, with no fixture at SuperSport Park, Newlands is the closest he will get to a home goodbye.

Strange are the ways of people and of selectors !!!   ~ away in the WC qualifiers, Afghanistan completed a miraculous revival to secure their passage to the World Cup in England next year with a five-wicket win over Ireland in the final Super Six match of the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe. Afghanistan lost their group games to Scotland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong and entered the Super Six with no points, but victories over West Indies, UAE and Ireland - as well as helpful results in other games - meant that their World Cup dreams came to rest on their final match against Ireland. Chasing 210 on a slow track, Mohammad Shahzad led the way with a rapid fifty before Asghar Stanikzai, who missed the group stage due to an emergency appendectomy, secured the result with an unbeaten 39.

As recently as 2010, Nepal were playing in the sixth tier of world cricket. In less than a decade, they have risen to become one of 16 teams with official ODI status. They made the final step in the World Cup Qualifier, beating Hong Kong to finish fourth in their group and then Papua New Guinea in a playoff match to guarantee an eighth-place finish and with it ODI status. They will now be an ODI team until at least 2022, and while this does not guarantee fixtures against Full Members, it is a remarkable achievement.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2018.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Remembering martyrs : Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar & Shivaram Rajguru

A  bomb was thrown "to make the deaf hear and to give the headless a timely warning" ~ the perpetrators did not run away – but like our own Veera Vanchinathan, offered themselves to Police arrest, as was planned by the Central Committee of Hindustan Socialistic Republic Association being headed by Chander Shekhar.. .. .. today is the day to remember them .. .. .. and a web search led me to another Bengal activist who was arrested and hanged in Mar 1924 (sad even the date is not recorded and not much of history we ever studied about this hero – more on him in a separate post)

Today 23rd March  marks the 87th  year of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru. They symbolise the best example of sacrifice to free India from the imperial clutches of British rule. Indian history books perhaps have provided lesser  exposure to their visionary battle against British rule. These revolutionaries envisioned India’s future were not in the same stream of Congress and did not garner that attention that the party gotten.

They are the very  definition of martyr and would eternally motivate the youngsters for the Nation Cause.   Before that have you heard of Kartar Singh Sarabha.  In the leaflet he threw in the Central Assembly on 9 April 1929, he stated: "It is easy to kill individuals but you cannot kill the ideas. Great empires crumbled, while the ideas survived.   While in prison,  he and his 2 friends wrote to Lord Irwin,  asking to be treated as prisoners of war and consequently to be executed by firing squad and not by hanging.  He declined to sign letter for clemency…….  -        that is Shaheed Bhagat Singh

From his early days, he had been attracted by revolutionary activities against oppressive British Raj.  Seeking revenge for the death of Lala Lajpat Rai at the hands of the police, Singh was involved in the assassination of British police officer John Saunders. He eluded efforts by the police to capture him. Together with Batukeshwar Dutt, he undertook a successful effort to throw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly while shouting slogans of Inquilab Zindabad. Subsequently they volunteered to surrender and be arrested. Held on this charge, he gained widespread national support when he underwent a 116 day fast in jail, demanding equal rights for British and Indian political prisoners. He was convicted and subsequently hanged for his participation in the murder, aged 23. His legacy prompted youth in India to begin fighting for Indian independence and he continues to be a youth idol in modern India.

Bhagat Singh and B.K.Dutt were sentenced to transportation for life on June 12, 1929 and both were sent to Multan jail and Lahore jail on l31h June 1929 by train. According to different files of Home Department of India related with J.P.Saundres Murder Case of Lahore, the Punjab Police and C.I.D. of Punjab Govt. was unable to trace the killer up to May 1929. Even the Police could not name the culprits. The Police was haunting in the dark but successfully made a strong case linking Browning Pistol No.l68096. 
We often attach great importance to the soil or the place and that way Khatkar Kalan is a historic village for it has given many famous patriots and freedom fighters like Sardar Kishan Singh, Sardar Ajit Singh, Sardar Swaran Singh, Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh.   Nawanshahr  situtated on the banks of river Sutlej is a city in Punjab which was upgraded as a district in 1995, now it is a municipal council in the district named after the revolutionary and is called Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar district in Punjab.  It reportedly was built during the reign of  Khilji (1295-1316).  In Sept 2008, in commemoration of Shahid’s 101st birth anniversary, Punjab CM Prakashsingh Badal announced the formation of a district after him.  

                     Bhagat  & Dutt were sentenced to 'Transportation for Life' for the bombing on 12 June 1929. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were charged with the murder.   On 1st   May 1930, by declaring an emergency, an ordinance was passed by Lord Irwin, that shifted the Lahore Conspiracy Case Trial from the court of Rai Sahib Pandit Sri Kishan to a Special Tribunal of three judges. On 7 October 1930, this tribunal convicted Singh among others and sentenced him to be hanged till death.  On 23 March 1931, Bhagat Singh was hanged in Lahore with his fellow comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev.  Bhagat Singh was cremated at Hussainiwala on banks of Sutlej river.

The court framed charges under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act. Bhagat Singh and Dutt were accused of throwing bombs ‘to kill or cause injuries to the King Majesty’s subjects’. The magistrate committed both of the revolutionaries’ to the sessions court, which was presided over by Judge Leonard Middleton. The trial started in the first week of June, 1929. Here also, Bhagat Singh and Dutt were irked by the allegation that they had fired shots from a gun. It was apparent that the government was not limiting the case to the bombs thrown in the Assembly. The two were persuaded to file an appeal which was rejected and they were sent for fourteen years. The judge was in a hurry to close the case and claimed that the police had gathered ‘substantial evidence’ against Bhagat Singh and that he was charged with involvement in the killings of Saunders. The case proceeded at a snails pace and hence the government got so exasperated that it approached the Lahore High Court for directions to the magistrate. When the case opened on 5 May 1930, Rajguru challenged the very constitution of the tribunal and said that it was illegal ultra vires. He argued that  the Viceroy did not have the power to cut short the normal legal procedure.

Sadly, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were sentenced to death in the Lahore conspiracy case and ordered to be hanged on 24 March 1931; but Singh was informed that his execution had been advanced by 11 hours on 23 March 1931, just a few hours before his execution.  Singh was hanged on 23 March 1931 at 7:30 pm in Lahore jail with his fellow comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev. It is reported that no magistrate of the time was willing to supervise his hanging. The jail authorities then broke the rear wall of the jail and secretly cremated the three martyrs under cover of darkness outside Ganda Singh Wala village, and then threw the ashes into the Sutlej river.  An ex-parte trial was against the principles of natural justice that no man shall be held guilty unless given an opportunity to defend in a hearing.  It was probably for the first time, that executions were carried out in the evening, by advancing the date of execution. The families of the accused were not allowed to meet them before the execution nor were they informed about it, even the bodies of the three were not given to their relatives after the execution to perform last rites.

Even lesser is known about the other two daring colleagues of Bhagat Singh.  Shivaram Hari Rajguru (24 August 1908 – 23 March 1931) was  born at Khed, near Pune.  Years later, his  birthplace of Khed has since been renamed as Rajgurunagar in his honour. Rajguru Market, a shopping complex at Hisar, Haryana, was named in his honour in 1953.

Almost a century ago, there were different ideologies - the paths Gandhi and Bhagat Singh.  Were they complementary could not be commented now ..   in some ways, the Gandhian path was focussed on the transfer of political power but Bhagat Singh's vision was to transform independent India into better society.  There has been criticism that Gandhi and other national leaders of that time, did not do much to prevent or reduce the sentence of 3 martyrs.  Lord Irwin, in a report to the Secretary of State, penned his position on the issue of commutation: He (Mahatma Gandhi) did not plead for commutation, although he would, being opposed to all taking of life, take that course himself. He also thought it would have an influence for peace. But he did ask for postponement in present circumstances. I contented myself with saying that, whatever might be the decision as to exact dates, I could not think there was any case for commutation which might not be made with equal force in the case of any other violent crime.

Sad ~ politicians and rulers of those years and those who followed failed to honour such great sacrifices of martyrs but for whom, we will not be celebrating our freedom.

Salutes to Them all ~ with regards – S. Sampathkumar

Parliament passes Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill 2018

‘Gratuity’ ~ the dictionary meaning is :  a tip given to a waiter, taxi driver, etc. It also means :  sum of money paid to an employee at the end of a period of employment.  Every employee looks forward to peaceful retirement as they near the homebend !!

For topic of the day – it is about Employee benefit (social security !) .. ..  Gratuity is a benefit received by an employee for services rendered to an organisation. For companies covered under the Gratuity Act, this benefit is paid when an employee completes five or more years of service with the employer. The Gratuity Act applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons.  The primary objective of providing a gratuity scheme is to provide a retiring benefit to the workman who have rendered long and unblemished service to the employer and thereby contributed to the prosperity of the employer.

In Western Nations the concept of Social security is "any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income." Social security is enshrined in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

In economic parlance, Gratuity is a defined benefit plan given by the employer to the employee parting for the services rendered.  In India, we have a statue - Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 - an Act to provide for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It was  enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-third Year of Republic of India and called  Payment of Grataity Act, 1972.

Section: 4 of the Act states :  Payment of gratuity. (1) Gratuity shall be payable to an employee on the termination of his employment after he has rendered continuous service for not less than five years, - (a) on his superannuation, or (b) on his retirement or resignation, or (c) on his death or disablement due to accident or disease: Provided that the completion of continuous service of five years shall not be necessary where the termination of the employment of any employee is due to death or disablement: Provided further that in the case of death of the employee, gratuity payable to him shall be paid to his nominee or, if no nomination has been made, to his heirs, and where any such nominees or heirs is a minor, the share of such minor, shall be deposited with the controlling authority who shall invest the same for the benefit of such minor in such bank or other financial institution, as may be prescribed, until such minor attains majority.

As per Section 4(1), the completion of continuous service of 5 years is not required where termination of employment is due to death or disablement. In such case mandatory gratuity is payable. Gratuity is paid at a rate of 15 days wages for every completed year of service or part thereof in excess of Six months. The wages here means wages last drawn by the employee. The "15 Days Wages" will be calculated by dividing the last drawn wages by 26 and multiplying the result with 15.

The good news for employees is that  Parliament has passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill which will increase the ceiling of tax-free gratuity amount to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh. Further, this will allow the government to increase the gratuity ceiling from time to time without amending the law.

The amendment bill is seen as a  long awaited change, much expected to bring private sector employees at par with their public sector counterparts as far as gratuity ceiling is concerned. The gratuity amendment act, once it comes into force after receiving Presidential assent and publication in the Official Gazette, would provide greater defined benefit advantage for employees as it is likely that income tax limits are increased as it has been the case in the past. The amendment also gives flexibility to the Government to extend the ceiling in the future by mere notification as opposed to the requirement of an amendment.

The amendment further  allows the government to fix the period of maternity leave for female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of the existing 12 weeks  enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks.

The enhancement in ceiling could mean  that  tax liability will be nil in respect of  any amount upto Rs.20 lakh as gratuity. After the Amendment bill comes to force, the government may raise the limit of Rs. 20 lakh further to increase the cap in gratuity amount as and when the need arises without having to change the law. Amount of gratuity is directly proportional to the tenure of service, and also to the last drawn salary.  According to the  formula, the time period of over six months or more is considered as one year.

Section: 13 of the Act categorically states that :  No gratuity payable under this Act and no gratuity payable to an employee employed in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railway company or shop exempted under section shall be liable to attachment in execution of any decree or order of any civil, revenue or criminal court.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2018.