The umpiring standards, in particular of Indians, in the IPL, haven’t been good and this led to a situation where MS Dhoni, known to be unflappable, lost his temper and marched out of the field. The main umpire had raised his hand to suggest the ball from Ben Stokes was a no-ball but it was ruled as legal by the square-leg umpire. The outstretched right hand had triggered the siren to blare around the ground and Ravindra Jadeja, one of the two batsmen, protested before Dhoni decided to cross the metaphorical line.
There are questions the day after. What if it was someone like Virat Kohli who had done this, with, let’s say, David Warner the captain on the field? Two strong heads could have led to a more explosive situation. What if it was an international game and the sight of an angry Dhoni provoked a hostile parochial crowd into creating chaos in support of him? A mini-riot at Eden Gardens has been seen in the past when the crowd felt Sachin Tendulkar was unfairly run out in a game against Pakistan. What if there was a weaker umpire in the midst, would he have yielded to Dhoni’s outburst and called it a no ball?
Seen in that light, the 50 per cent fine on match fee is a rather light rap, but yet again, the cricket laws don’t cover for human nature. IPL’s code of conduct is unprepared for such a “crime” — there is nothing in Article 2.1.5 or Article 2.1.6, which deal with excessive disappointment with an umpire’s decision, to account for outrage coming from a player outside the boundary lines. It’s time it’s reviewed especially in the T20 world with dugouts inches from the boundary. It also says something about the pressures of franchise cricket that even Dhoni is stirred into crossing lines he wouldn’t normally breach.