Enjoyable piece by Jim Maxwell on his Ashes blog:
Comparing the conduct and behaviour of cricketers and footballers has won respect for cricket, as football opens its doors to more of the same histrionics that demean the integrity of the game.
Yes, sledging or the art of mental disintegration can be distasteful and unnecessary, though it’s occasionally leavened by subtlety or humour.
One of the outstanding virtues of cricket is the acceptance of the umpire’s decision; Damien Martyn’s leg before dismissal in the second innings of the Third Test a prime example.
Steve Bucknor erred in not seeing or hearing a serious inside edge, but Martyn took his leave, surprised but not hysterical with rage like footballers who have become perennial dissenters.
And then there’s the image of Andrew Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after England’s gripping win/Australia’s narrow loss at Edgbaston.
Lee reciprocated at Old Trafford, when a weary Flintoff couldn’t take the last wicket.
These chivalrous acts have revitalised faith in sporting ideals.
Football’s own goal has been a failure to address the ugliness of petty cheating and indiscipline. Moves aiming to restore order and integrity are occurring, with a structural review by the English FA, but that won’t come soon enough to stop players and managers from disrespecting referees’ decisions.