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the final word

Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?

by Ross Stewart

“Are you a ‘walker’ or a ‘wait-and-see-er’?” The debate over whether batsmen should walk is still going strong – particularly in club cricket.

We’ve all been there: you know you’ve hit it, perhaps you even had a little glance back to check if your edge was taken by the keeper… to your dismay it was. Your shoulders slump a little. You know your afternoon is over, the best part of your weekend is done. Or is it? What if you stand there and wait for the umpire’s decision? Maybe he won’t give you. Maybe he didn’t notice. Maybe he’s your teammate, a 13-year-old on debut, who knows if he gives you out, he’ll be dropped for the rest of the season.

Walking. It’s one of the most contentious issues in club cricket. Everyone has an opinion on it and most are happy to castigate the opponent who has the audacity to stand their ground. But despite the moral high ground we claim while fielding, many of us are more than happy to don our best poker faces and act as if nothing’s happened when we happen to know we’ve hit one ourselves.

There are still those who will call time on their own innings without hesitation, regardless of the situation. Good on them, everyone has great respect for a ‘walker’ and perhaps they take solace in the warm ripple of applause and nod of appreciation they receive from their opponents as they leave the field of play. These moral-custodians can sleep easy, safe in the knowledge that they did the right thing and upheld the ‘Spirit of Cricket’.

Does that mean that everyone else has sleepless nights as they tussle with whether they got away with one or not? Absolutely not, for there are ways that cricketers countenance not walking. Perhaps they’ll argue that they were triggered last week and these things even themselves out. Or indeed that many laws actually say “if in the opinion of the umpire…”, meaning that there is no need to walk precisely because the umpire is there to make a decision. The “I wasn’t 100 per cent sure I hit the ball and not my pad” defence is fairly common, and then sometimes you find yourselves playing your rivals who everyone hates… what are you going to do then?

"Honestly, gran, I got nowhere near it..."

“Honestly, gran, I got nowhere near it…”

I think often the real reason club cricketers don’t walk is much more simple though. We all really like batting and we don’t want that experience to end. Our personal enjoyment on a Saturday afternoon is more important to us than the enjoyment of others (particularly the opposition) and it will be less enjoyable to walk off than it will be to carry on, regardless of the number of comments the opposition might give you.

So should club cricketers walk? Yes, probably, but is that realistic? The club cricketer’s one game of cricket a week probably shouldn’t matter so much as to forego sportsmanship. But it does matter that much. To us, at least. We spend all afternoon fighting with every sinew in our body to beat our opponents, to display that we are more skilful and more able. It makes sense that every now and then there will be that niggling temptation to remain despite knowing that we probably shouldn’t.

Advances in technology may one day ensure that ‘not walking’ becomes irrelevant. With Hawk-Eye announcing the development of an affordable edge-detection system for recreational cricket, the Saturday-league umpire may soon have the power of DRS at their fingertips. Until such a time that this technology is widely utilised though, we will continue to debate the rights and wrongs, the why’s and why-not’s, and the what-could-have-been’s.

Perhaps as a cricket community though, we can move the discussion forward, have it all out in the open and resolve some of the conflicts from the two sides. Maybe this is where we start the revolution towards a harmonious cricketing experience in which either everyone does walk or we agree that nobody has to. Ask your teammates on Saturday, we’re sure you’ll come to an agreement…

Where do you stand on the issue? Are you a ‘walker’ or a ‘wait-and-see-er’?

Have Your Say

Comments (22)

  1. Peter Williams 7 years ago (Edit)

    Of course you should walk. If you don't it's cheating. Every batsman who hits the ball straight to cover, who catches it, will walk without waiting to be given out. I don't understand why a batsman who does that is prepared to stand his ground after knowingly having edged the ball to the 'keeper.

  2. Phil Cole 7 years ago (Edit)

    Not walking is plain cheating, you don’t stand waiting for the umpire to give you out when you have been caught at mid on or anywhere else, so what’s the difference, no difference in my opinion. Something I hear all the time, the umpires paid to make decisions, no he isn’t, he’s there to manage and facilitate a game. Non walkers are the first to throw their bats if they have been given out LBW when they have hit it, or caught behind when the balls nicked the pad or they’ve clipped their pad. Double standards in my opinion. Unfortunately it will never change, for the majority of people it’s human nature to try con another individual.

  3. Richard Tidball 7 years ago (Edit)

    Walk every time!

  4. Norman House 7 years ago (Edit)

    The lines have become blurred for professionals with DRS etc. However long before that, many professionals stepped outside the 'spirit of cricket' by not walking as well as some of the constant chirping. As in football, youngsters (and even some veterans!) pick up this unsporting behaviour and think it is ok to react in that way. Umpires in recreational cricket will generally not be as finely attuned to a little nick, so even more important that club cricketers keep within the 'spirit of the game'. Though I understand if you get some bad decisions why people might not. We would expect everyone in our club to do the right thing, not that we are ever likely to win our league with that stance!

  5. Kev Baker 7 years ago (Edit)

    Totally agree with Peter. There's nothing more frustrating as a wicket keeper than knowing you've caught someone who doesn't walk! If I was playing the game for a living I might think differently, but it's a hobby for us (albeit one we take seriously) and should be treated like that. As a batsman I wouldn't want to put a team mate in an awkward position if they were umpiring, and making a big score after you know you've been out surely wouldn't feel as good?

  6. Nicholas Horne 7 years ago (Edit)

    I'm 73 now, so it's a "was" in my case. But yes, I always walked: moreover my two (decent cricketer) sons walk.
    Apropos, what REALLY annoys me is when a batsman comes in after his innings and boasts that he "got away with one" - admitting he SHOULD have been given out! Respect for that player is forever lost.

  7. Chris Davis 7 years ago (Edit)

    As a now 40 yr old opening batsman I've always walked and always will.... If I scored a 100 knowing I'd not walked to a Nick then that innings would mean nothing to me

  8. Matt Higgins 7 years ago (Edit)

    If you nick it and know you're out, you should walk. Simple. Staying in, courtesy of an umpire's dodgy hearing, sight (or both) when you know full well that you're out, is cheating of the worst order. So many these days stand their ground and sometimes get away with it. Just one instance of this kind of behaviour in a game (especially if it's a big nick) can ruin everyone's afternoon and create massive flash points. In divisions where players have to umpire, it can reduce games to nothing more than a 7 hour long farce. Leave the play acting to the footballers. Without the Spirit, the game is lost anyway.

  9. Palms 7 years ago (Edit)

    So last weekend I'm 90% sure I got a knick... we'll maybe 95%.... it was a slog sweep and I can't see what else may have made the noise... but I'm not 100%.

    The week before I was stumped, when spectators from both sides, on the boundary said I was hard-done-by. In an ideal world, my ethical nature is to walk, but time and again I've been shafted... so walking hurts (although I've done it occasionally)

  10. Andy Wales 7 years ago (Edit)

    If you are not sure you are entitled to stand there and wait for a decision but 99 times out of 100 you know if you hit it. If you don't walk then you are standing there thinking you might get away with it, therefore you are cheating.

    At a recreational level You put undue pressure on umpires by not walking, especially in games where umpires are non neutral. They then get it in the neck from the fielding side. It also encourages a culture of "well I am not walking if he didn't".

  11. The Chesh 7 years ago (Edit)

    We had this last week against new Victoria CC there "captain" clearly edge one through to the keeper and stud there denying it all. Clearly obvious umpire couldn't hear anything (was a windy day) to be fair to him. Being captain I ensure that all my team members walk if such a thing occurred, the "spirit of the game" is lost. Just like it was last week, no doubt about it that the better team won but the "cheat" never got much more afterwards but by which time it is fair to say we had lost the plot due to his lack of sportsmanship.
    Always walk have done since I was a young lad (played decent standard), maybe it's how you are brought up!!
    Respect to "walkers" (not the crisp)

  12. Jamie 7 years ago (Edit)

    With all due respect chaps, each player is entitled to their own when it comes to vacating the wicket or not. Waiting a full week to then be triggered LBDouche for next to none when it was missing a second set? Don't see the 'knowing' fielders then telling the umpire to cross the arms across the chest and get that batter back in there! Ya win some ya lose some. Part of the nature of the game... unless I'm chewing dots - take one for the team sometimes

  13. Gordon Smith 7 years ago (Edit)

    We have all seen world class umpires exposed at making honest mistakes thanks to the wonders of modern technology, so how can we expect amateur club cricketers, acting as reluctant umpires, to get everything correct?
    Club cricketers are prone to moan if they are erroneously given out by their team mates, who have very limited experience of umpiring.
    This situation is immediately eradicated if everyone agrees to walk when they know they have nicked it. The umpire can then be confident in giving the batsman not out if they have not walked, provided everyone is signed up to and adheres to this simple gentleman's agreement.

  14. Rodney Bates (@RodneyBates1) 7 years ago (Edit)

    Personally have always walked but one point to remember is that at many club games especially at lower levels, there are no dedicated umpires but match players who take it in turns during the match.
    If there are dedicated independent umpires not otherwise involved then can understand those that believe decisions should be made by the umpire and not walk. However, if the umpire is a player, it is hard enough anyway to give decisions without being perceived as cheating so players who know they are out should walk.
    Incidentally, being a known "walker" helps out umpires as they don't then give out people who remain after an appeal.

  15. Paul 7 years ago (Edit)

    Overall I think you should walk. This is particularly the case when you are playing in a match where your colleagues or club umpire is officiating.

    I do have some sympathy for non walkers particularly higher up the leagues with league appointed umpires, where fielding teams tend to put umpires under pressure unnecessarily optimistic appeals, or with double appeals and orchestrated appeals. However for those who are not walkers I always say don't moan when you are triggered, or have been done by a well organised appeal 'what goes around comes around'!

  16. The Purple Cow 7 years ago (Edit)

    As long as there was a real umpire I never walked. As a kid I was taught that the umpire was always right even when he was wrong, to disagree with an umpire undermines his authority.

  17. Joe McCarthy 7 years ago (Edit)

    I think it depends on the game & who's umpiring.

    Saturday league cricket with umpires: Don't walk. You'll get given out when you don't hit it, it's the umpires job & he's paid to do it.

    Sunday/Friendly Cricket with umpires: Walk, it's a friendly to be played in the right spirit.

    Players umpiring their own team: Walk, don't drop your mate in the deep end because you're not good enough to middle it & want a longer stint at the crease. You probably played an awful shot anyway.

  18. Baz 7 years ago (Edit)

    In league where there are panel umpires you will find a lot less walkers and it makes sense.

    Below that level it is down to the individual to do the right thing this is where the Spirit of Cricket needs to survive but is under threat.

  19. Si Nicholls 7 years ago (Edit)

    I think the modern way of thinking is to only go when the umpire gives you out. Why? Because It balances out over the season all the times that you were given out LBW with your leg two feet outside the stumps or halfway down the pitch...

  20. Stephen 7 years ago (Edit)

    But what about that catch?, did it carry or bounce? Does a batter have the right to ask the question of the fielder and umpire. You know you played a bad shot but if the fielder didn't get there that is your luck for the day. This happened in a game recently. Wasn't clear it had carried. Half team surrounded fielder other half surrounded umpire. Batter couldn't ask for honest opinion then called for not walking. Who had the spirit of cricket the batter or the fielders? will never know.

  21. Steve O'brien 7 years ago (Edit)

    A slight twist on this, but what about the "Non Walking Walkers".. These are the guys that as a keeper ruin the game. I actually dont mind someone not walking, the umpire is there, and in our case paid to make the decison. I even dont mind if they later admit it. I take that as part and parcel of the game. The guys that really get me going are the ones (and keepers everywhere will recognise this) that nick the cover off it and get away with one. Then say "I didnt hit it, I always walk". That I have found has led to more confrontation than the straight up non walker. To quote Jack Bannister on the subject.. "you can't be partially pregnant". Pick your standpoint and stick to it.

  22. Craig Wood 7 years ago (Edit)

    See this is definitely a contentious talking point, I do believe at lower levels where you have your own umpires and not paid umpires then yes they should walk if you know you have hit it. If you don't know then no one should walk.

    Now when there are paid umpires then should you walk I would say no, they are there to make them decisions and paid for them. I used to be a walker ( and still am to an extent as in if I nick it to slip I'm walking ) but someone once told me that everything evens itself up. This is simply not true. I think I went one season where I gave myself out 50% of the time knowing full well I'd hit it and then the other 50% of dismissals where very dubious LBW's and caught behind.

    I believe the problem is that the standard of umpiring at my level is so bad, that in no way shape or form should you walk, in fact our game on Saturday was completely spoiled by the men in whit coats. So our batsmen who was given out caught at leg slip when he was nowhere near the ball is never going to walk next week if he gets a fine tickle on one. Because he knows full well that his innings could be brought to an abrupt end by an under performing umpire. We all make mistakes, its just unfortunate that there is so many happening at the moment and umpires mistakes unfortunately cost a young man or lady a day that they have been waiting all week for.

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