The Indian Premier League provided quite a bit of fuel in a recent match between Kings XI Punjab and the Rajasthan Royals.
There was former Australian captain Steve Smith playing with a heavily strapped right arm as he continues to recover from elbow surgery in January, making his IPL return while serving the final days of his 12-month ban. Smith scored 20 from 16 balls, appeared a bit rusty, but showed glimpses of the old Smith by clubbing a boundary and a six.
Well, there are bans and then there are bans. Chris Gayle was there after serving a ban, not for cheating the game, but for having the cheek to proposition a female commentator following a BBL match in 2016.
A certain guardian of the scruples of the game, Ian Chappell, was apoplectically adamant that Gayle should be forever banned, to which Gayle famously responded, “Who is Ian Chappel?”
Chappel has remained relevant. The former Australian captain was in the news recently for casting aspersions on the Cricket Australia investigation into last year’s South Africa ball tampering scandal.
Gayle produced 79 from 47 balls, so the Battle of the Banned went to the 39-year-old Jamaican-born veteran.
The match provided a controversy sufficient to put a kink in the knickers of the normally reticent Shane Warne.
Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin “Mankaded” Jos Butler in a bizarre runout incident, only the second such in IPL history, when Ashwin caught Butler backing out of the popping crease before the bowl.
Butler had some hot words for Ashwin as he left the field, but blokes in pink shirts intimidate no one.
Warne invoked the spirit of the game, whatever that may be and whatever remains of it, if it were ever present in the first place, when he took to social media to say, “This win at all costs mentality has got to stop & the integrity of the game along with the spirit of the game must be of the most importance, as we need to set examples to the young boys & girls playing cricket!”
For the record, Ashwin’s runout was within the rules.