A new tradition

Source: ESPN Cricinfo

This screenshot is from ESPN Cricinfo’s live commentary for the Chennai Super Kings versus Gujarat Titans IPL match on March 26, 2024. Super Kings captain Ruturaj Gaikwad got out caught behind off the bowling of Spencer Johnson. I’m not sure why Cricinfo’s commentary says Gaikwad walked off because he didn’t. He swung his bat at the ball, got a nick, and the ball flew through to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Saha and Johnson both started to celebrate – until Johnson noticed Gaikwad hadn’t left the crease. He turned around to appeal to the umpire, who signalled out, and it was then that Gaikwad started to walk.

A new captain at the helm of Super Kings has been due. MS Dhoni is in his early 40s. Though he still plays good cricket, it’s also time for him to make way, and Gaikwad is a good choice: he’s only 27 years old and can serve in the new role for a long time, assuming he also does well. It’s just that… if Dhoni had been the one to nick that ball, he would’ve walked the moment Saha caught it instead of waiting for the umpire’s signal. We’ve seen it in so many games both in the IPL and those for the national team, and we’ve also seen other Super Kings players follow suit. I assumed it was team culture, bolstered by the fact that Super Kings has also frequently been among the top five teams in the (meta-)race for the IPL’s ‘Fair Play Award’.

To each their own, of course, but considering Gaikwad is now the captain, I hope how he responded is just the sign of a new captain and doesn’t also signal a change in the team culture.