Local cricket is rarely covered well. Too often, when it is covered at all, there are obvious giveaways that the journalists who are given the assignment are being asked to be a stenographer of scorecards, rather than an independent and authoritative voice on how the score came to being what it was. This problem is increased by the fact that there is rarely a visual record of such games – a cricket fan’s trust in the written word is at its height at this level. It means that stories are not so much inaccurately reported as missed altogether.
Thanks to Nathan Bester, a local cricket scorer who uploads some matches involving his club, Lindisfarne, onto YouTube, it is possible to analyse one such instance on January 26 involving Lindisfarne and Clarence at first grade level in Tasmania (Disclaimer: The author plays for the Clarence District Cricket Club at lower levels). Clarence’s Harry Allanby and Daniel Salpietro combined to run out Jackson Grubb of Lindisfarne. Allanby, bowling his customary left-arm off spin to left-hander Declan Waddington, saw his fifth ball get hit straight to Salpietro, fielding at a straight short mid-wicket, who quickly let fly with a backhanded throw, which Grubb dived to defeat. Under the misapprehension that the ball had become dead, Grubb let go of the bat to stand up, unaware that Allanby had lingered by the stumps and was ready to pounce on the fact he was out of his crease by knocking the bails over.
Umpire Muhammad Qureshi hesitated before giving the batsman out, checking with Allanby, Clarence’s captain, if he wanted to uphold the appeal. This was a course of action that Salpietro, Clarence’s coach, was eager to take. The captain eventually decided to do so.
Fair enough. Grubb had a clear option if he wished not to be run out – stay in his crease and check with the umpire that the ball was dead. But cricket is played by two teams and a diverse mix of individuals – and few dismissals in cricket bring out that diverse range of opinion than a run out that differs from orthodoxy in some way. In cases such as Grubb’s run out, it would be better if the umpire did not ask the fielding captain if they wished to withdraw the appeal as it gives the impression that there is something wrong with their actions.
The point of this story, however, is that not a word of this specific incident was mentioned in The Mercury, the local paper, the next day. This is unsurprising – there is not the money for that sort of story, and if it was important enough, one of the clubs or Cricket Tasmania would contact the press. There has to be a consensus that the story is important in the greater context of professional cricket or the apex of amateur cricket, and this story was neither. The money is just not there for the stories that are not. And that’s a shame.