IPL: Gautam Gambhir Swears, Dale Steyn Shove: Commentators Should Know Better

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IPL: Gautam Gambhir Swears, Dale Steyn Shove: Commentators Should Know Better
Bikas Das/Associated Press

The Kolkata Knight Riders moved a step closer to the Indian Premier League play-offs with a solid seven-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.

The talking points of the match should have been Hyderabad's ineffective change of captains, David Warner's brief 18-ball cameo that yielded 34 runs, Robin Uthappa's continuing dominance in the season and Yusuf Pathan's wild celebration on hitting the winning runs.

Instead, the two incidents that stuck in people's minds and would continue to be discussed on social media and other cricketing circles well after the conclusion of the match are the reactions of KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir and SRH bowler Dale Steyn, when things didn't go their way.

During the second over of KKR's chase of 143, Steyn bowled a length delivery to Gambhir that swung away from the left-hander after pitching. Gambhir swung at it but did not connect, as the ball passed inches away from his blade and into the hands of the wicketkeeper.

Or so we thought.

The Sunrisers appealed loudly for caught behind and—to Gambhir's utter shock—the umpire raised his finger.

Not known for his tranquility on the cricket field, Gambhir stormed his way back to the dugout mouthing rather colourful words, before flinging his bat and gloves away.

As he sat down in the dugout, the shower of profanities continued. Anyone watching the game with a decent understanding of the Hindi language would have been able to lip-read whatever he said, including kids.

Meanwhile, back in the middle, if Steyn thought that it was his lucky day, his outlook would soon change. In the sixth over of the innings, KKR's Robin Uthappa skied a Steyn delivery towards cover, before Shikhar Dhawan dropped what should have been a sitter.

If someone had expected a reaction similar to Gambhir from Steyn, they would have been disappointed as the South African just clasped his mouth in disbelief.

The very next ball, Uthappa rubbed salt into the wounds by nonchalantly flicking the bowler off his pads for a six over deep midwicket. This time, Steyn didn't look too pleased as he walked back to his mark.

Later in the same over, Uthappa tried to tap the ball inches from the crease and sneak a quick single, before deciding against it. Steyn came charging down the pitch to recover the ball and barged into Uthappa along the way, before shoving him away.

Uthappa would have to be credited for maintaining his calm, even as a fuming Steyn was approached by his team-mates in a bid to cool him down.

Gambhir and Steyn are bound to lose their team points in the Fair Play table. However, it could be argued that the reactions of both players were made in the heat of the moment during a match that was vital for both teams in order to make the play-offs.

While that argument would stand to some extent, there's no escaping the fact that their reactions were condemnable and avoidable.

It wasn't for the first time that an umpire had given an incorrect dismissal in the history of the game, especially in this IPL season, where the standard of umpiring has been despicable. It also won't be the last such instance.

It wasn't the first time that a catch had been dropped off an in-form batsman in a crucial match, either, and it won't be the last.

It's impossible to keep emotions out of such a high-pressure environment, where even the tiniest of errors could turn the entire match. However, it is up to the players, who know they are being watched by millions across the world, to keep their emotions in check and away from the viewing public.

There have been better reactions to bad umpiring decisions or dropped catches on the cricket field in the past. What's more, Gambhir and Steyn can in no way be called young and inexperienced to justify their reactions. They should have known better.

Regardless of the players' behaviour, the commentators are in the best position to condemn such incidents and send out the right message to budding cricketers watching the game.

Unfortunately, Ravi Shastri and Ramiz Raja wasted an opportunity by instead cracking jokes and having a good laugh over Gambhir's colourful language on air.

The IPL commentary team, who are on the payroll of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has long been criticised for its lack of objectivity when it comes to discussing controversial incidents.

But the least they could do, as former cricketers and role models, is provide a little more criticism and condemnation of such incidents than the now common and flimsy "that was naughty."

Earlier in the season, after the infamous Mitchell Starc-Kieron Pollard scuffle, one of India's most respected commentators, Harsha Bhogle, had this to say on Twitter:

After a bit more reflection, possibly following some backlash for his comment, Bhogle returned to describe the incident as "terrible" and the match referee's decision to just fine the two players as "sad."

On Monday, following the Gambhir incident, all Bhogle did was retweet his son:

There was no further discussion from anyone on the commentary panel.

The Telegraph's Jonathan Liew wrote in a recent column:

Sneering at the IPL for its relentless positivity is like criticising Eurovision for being a bit over the top. If you go to the circus, you should expect to see a few clowns.

Terrible. Sad. But true.

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