The recent ODI match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 has stirred major controversy due to the unique ‘timed out’ dismissal of Sri Lankan batsman Angelo Mathews. This rare form of dismissal, while legal, has sparked debate on sportsmanship and ethics in cricket.
What is Timed Out in Cricket?
As per the ICC rules, a batsman must be ready to face a delivery within 2 minutes of the fall of a wicket. If the incoming batsman is not ready within this time limit, the fielding team can appeal for ‘timed out’ and the batsman will be given out. While common in domestic cricket, timed outs are very rare in international matches.
Angelo Mathews Incident
Sri Lanka, batting first, lost opener Sadeera Samarawickrama in the 38th over. Angelo Mathews walked out to bat but as he took guard, his helmet strap broke. Mathews called for a new helmet but the replacement took over 2 minutes to arrive. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan appealed for timed out and Mathews was reluctantly given out by the umpires.
Mathews Fury at Bangladesh
A livid Mathews later accused Bangladesh of being “disgraceful” and stooping to a new low. He claimed that the strap had broken only after the 2-minute mark and umpires should have used some discretion. Mathews said he has never seen a team exploit an equipment malfunction in this shameful manner. He lamented the lack of spirit of cricket shown by Bangladesh.
Shakib defended his actions, stating that rules are rules. He said that while he understands Mathews’ frustration, Bangladesh shouldn’t be blamed for taking a legal wicket. Shakib pointed out that Mathews was still not ready to face a ball after 2 minutes. He denied any claims of poor sportsmanship.
Debate on Sportsmanship vs Gamesmanship
This incident has sparked a debate on sportsmanship in cricket. Some analysts feel that Shakib violated the spirit of cricket by exploiting an opponent’s misfortune. Others argue that Bangladesh were well within their rights to appeal and did nothing unfair per the rules. There are also comparisons with ‘Mankading’ – another controversial but valid form of dismissal.
The laws versus ethics dilemma continues to divide opinions. Could Shakib have withdrawn the appeal after seeing Mathews’ predicament? Should Mathews have been more alert despite his broken helmet? This unique wicket has certainly brought a complex issue to the forefront.
The Angelo Mathews timed out dismissal will remain a huge talking point of the 2023 World Cup. With Sri Lanka and Bangladesh potential semi-finalists, this bad blood spilled could resurface later in the tournament. Regardless of fault or justification, this incident showed cricket at its combative best and reaffirmed that playing hard but fair is the ultimate challenge.