When Sourav Ganguly nearly became the first timed out batter in international cricket in 2007
The buzz around Angelo Mathews’ dismissal will remain high for the next few days, for it was the first-ever such instance in the rich history of international cricket. While Mathews wasn’t at fault, he had to depart without even facing a ball. Shakib had the option of withdrawing his appeal, but he didn’t despite the umpires confirming it twice.
Angelo Mathews is part of an unwanted record now. However, he could have been the second player had South Africa appealed 14 years ago in Cape Town. Yes, such an incident has taken place earlier as well.
This story is from India’s tour to South Africa in 2007. India were facing a daunting South Africa in Cape Town for the third and final Test of the tour. The series was levelled 1-1, and the winner of this game would have taken a big prize home.
The Indian openers departed within 14 balls of their second innings, leaving India in trouble. It was Sachin Tendulkar’s time to come in, but he was off the field a day before. So he couldn’t come in without waiting an equal amount of time during his team’s batting turn.
The fourth umpire, Murray Brown, also informed the same to India’s dressing room. The Indian team, unprepared for this event, were suddenly struggling to select a different batter and send him to the field within the allotted time. For the record, the Indian team didn’t get any remainder about Sachin Tendulkar before the start of their innings.
The next batter in the batting order, VVS Laxman, was still having a shower, exacerbating the situation for the Indian team. The No. 6, Sourav Ganguly, was supposed to move to the crease in the absence of Sachin and VVS. But he was still in his tracksuit, completely unprepared for such chaos.
Somehow, he gathered himself and rushed to the playing area. However, he was late, for Ganguly took six minutes to reach the crease. It was against the rules defined by MCC.
According to MCC’s Law 40.1.1, “After the fall of a wicket or the retirement of a batter, the incoming batter must, unless Time has been called, be ready to receive the ball, or for the other batter to be ready to receive the next ball within 3 minutes of the dismissal or retirement. If this requirement is not met, the incoming batter will be out, Timed out.”
Here, Ganguly took six minutes to get ready to face the ball. However, the South Africa team, led by Graeme Smith, decided not to appeal and ask for the dismissal from the on-field umpires. Maybe they found it against the spirit of cricket - so despite waiting for too long unnecessarily, the Proteas didn’t appeal.
So Ganguly narrowly escaped from being the first-ever player to be timed out in international cricket. He went on to make a gutsy 46, becoming the second-highest-scorer of the innings. Ganguly’s innings couldn’t save India, and South Africa won the game by five wickets.
Graeme Smith earned the respect of the Indian team and its fans. He could have easily appealed and sent back Sourav Ganguly since it was written in the law. But he did the right thing by not appealing.
Angelo Mathews might have become the first player to be timed out, but Ganguly could well have registered his name had South Africa not been lenient. This incident is worth remembering now since we finally have a member in this mode of dismissal.