Here is my flashing cover drive straight to the Commentator on the ever-intriguing and timely subject of cricket and morality:
In earlier years it was part of the moral code of cricket that a batsman ‘walked’ (ie left the field without waiting for any formal umpire decision) when he knew that he had been caught out. He would not want to take unfair advantage by continuing to bat.
Now we have the far opposite: the batsman knows or at least strongly believes that he has been caught and so is out, but he stays put; he wants to take unfair advantage of a bad decision…
… it could be said that the iron impartiality and ‘objectivity’ of rules, where the rules are agreed by a democratic process and generally accepted by everyone, is what distinguishes civilisation itself from everything else, from Magna Carta onwards. Likewise if most rules aren’t properly enforced or are somehow ‘negotiable’, what is the incentive for anyone to learn or obey rules at all?
Yet instrumental, mechanical fairness is not enough.
Sometimes things happen which are squarely within the rules yet are not quite ‘right’ according to a higher ‘natural’ sense of fairness. The very fact that a situation is governed by Rules rather than Principles means that anyone who wants to behave badly or recklessly but cunningly stays within the rules has a happy life. And too many rules can create all sorts of negative incentives to bad behaviour or bad outcomes.
Banker friends say that a large part of the current banking disasters comes from the state eroding the basic principles of good banking by piling on regulations, thereby encouraging a narrow and ultimately irresponsible box-ticking approach to subtle and far-reaching issues risk-management:
“You have taken away from me the responsibility for regulating this sector and its risks. You have laid down the rules in vast profusion, and threatened me for not complying with them. I did everything you asked – you have the papers. Yet we now have a total mess. If I behaved unwisely within the context you devised it’s mainly your fault, not mine.”
… Broadly speaking we are getting more and more nitpicking oppressive rules, and less and less wisdom and fairness. This has the social effects you would expect to see. With politicians and BBC potentates and cheating footballers blazing the trail, the spirit of our times is being redefined and dumbed down before our very eyes.
Stuart Broad yesterday joined that swinish charge. It’s not about what is right or decent or fair or reasonable. It’s what you can get away with.
All of which said, let’s once again grind those cocky Aussies deep into the crickety dust. That’s what they want to do to us.
Two down. Eight to go.
It’s a hot afternoon.