The third and final Test match in the West Indies vs South Africa series that concluded last week saw two mid-pitch hostilities that threatened to go out of hand. Dale Steyn was at the centre of the first flare-up, as he spat in the direction of Sulieman Benn who got close to and laughed at Steyn when he was dismissed. Click here to see what happened
The second incident involved Kemar Roach who went up to Jacques Kallis after hitting him with a bouncer and exchanged words. Video of the Roach- Kallis run-in
The two ugly incidents at Barbados aren’t the first time unpleasant altercations have taken place on a cricket field. Here's a look at some epic on field battles from the past:
(Click on the titles of each battle to watch the corresponding video)
The Aussies are no strangers to sledging and when the silent assassin Curtly Ambrose peppered Steve Waugh with an array of short bowling at the Queen's Park Oval, Waugh's frustration got the better of him. An intent stare from Ambrose was met with the F-word. Profanities are rare in the Caribbean and Ambrose countered with a 'Don't cuss at me, man'.
Waugh replied with another piece of personal abuse and by then the situation escalated to the point of total ugliness. It was left to Windies captain Richie Richardson to step in, who grabbed Ambrose by the wrist and literally yanked him away.
Here's what Steve Waugh later wrote about the confrontation -
I didn't mind this clash with Ambrose because I knew I could forget about it after using the altercation as motivation to do well. I never minded being the villain, because it set me up against the rest - a scenario that turned me on.
I remember sitting in the stands and watching this one.
Michael Slater believed he had taken Rahul Dravid’s catch but umpire Venkatraghavan referred it to the third umpire. In the meantime, Slater gave Dravid a mouthful as he expected 'The Wall' to take his word and walk. Good thing Dravid decided not to, as replays showed the ball touching the ground before the catch was taken. The third umpire’s decision didn’t make much difference to Slater who threw a tantrum, continued to insist that the catch was clean and again stormed up to Dravid to give him a piece of his mind.
The Australian opener was let off with just a sympathetic warning from match referee Cammie Smith. After the match, the unrepentant Slater pushed his luck even further by claiming in an Australian radio interview, that he had done nothing wrong . His comments earned him a one-match suspended ban and left most of India fuming at the perceived bias when meting out penalties.
Steve Waugh described the incident in his autobiography, 'Out Of My Comfort Zone' -
He (Slater) blew up at the perceived injustice, and his personal stresses spilled out in a messy tirade that involved finger-pointing and an out-of-control plea for justice...Slats' performance was unacceptable and selfish, as he let his personal emotions overrule the team's ethics and standards.
Later in an interview, when asked why he didn't retaliate, Dravid said -
It would mean doing something that is not in my character. Sledging can never upset me. I am completely unaffected with words on the field.
It was cricket's biggest spectacle and the game's biggest rivalry was on display. The 1996 World Cup quarter-finals at the Chinnaswamy stadium saw Aamir Sohail captaining in place of Wasim Akram who mysteriously pulled out on the morning of match citing injury.
Chasing 287 to win, Sohail along with Saeed Anwar got Pakistan off to a flying start. With the score at 109 for the loss of one wicket, Sohail smashed Venkatesh Prasad through the covers for a four. He then gestured to the boundary aggressively and indicated where he was going to send the next delivery, after which both players exchanged words. It's not everyday that you see a batsman sledging a bowler and Sohail was about to learn why. The next ball saw Sohail being clean bowled by Prasad who took the opportunity to show the Pakistani the way to the dressing room. Sohail's dismissal triggered a batting collapse that saw India seal its place in the semi-final and the match went down in cricketing folklore.
Australia's bad boy Andrew Symonds is known for being on the wrong side of the law, but in 2008 it was he who claimed to be the victim of racial abuse on the cricket pitch.
After being subjected to 'monkey' chants by the Mumbai crowd while playing in India in 2007, Symonds was in no mood to let things off easily. When Harbhajan Singh allegedly called him a 'monkey' at the SCG, Symonds charged him with racial abuse that earned the Indian spinner a three-Test ban. Bhajji and Sachin Tendulkar (who was batting alongside him) denied the charges and the BCCI threatened to pull India out of the series if the ban was not reversed.
After an appeal the Test ban was revoked due to inadequate audio-visual evidence and Harbhajan got away with a 50 percent match fee fine. Andrew Symonds too copped a lot of flak for the handling of the incident.
Here's what well-known Australian Cricket writer Peter Roebuck had to say in Harbhajan's defence -
Harbhajan Singh can be an irritating young man but he is head of a family and responsible for raising nine people. All the Australian elders want to do is hunt him from the game. Australian fieldsman fire insults from the corners of their mouths, an intemperate Sikh warrior overreacts and his rudeness is seized upon. It might impress barrack room lawyers.
The Sydney Test in the news for the Bhajji-Symo incident and some extremely poor umpiring against the Indians, is considered to be one of the most controversial Tests in recent years.
As Pakistan were chasing a mammoth 543 to win at Perth with two days to survive, a fired-up Dennis Lillee was all guns blazing.
During his stay at the wicket, firebrand Pakistani captain Javed Miandad collided with the bowler – Dennis Lillee during a run for an easy single. Eyewitnesses felt Lillee was to blame and that he had deliberately moved into the batsman's path.
The stand-off escalated as Lillee maintained that Miandad struck him with his bat; Miandad countered with the claim that Lillee had kicked him as he passed.
Umpire Tony Crafter had to jump in and hold back Lillee while Miandad wielded his bat to get back at the Australian. The clash was described by Wisden as 'one of the most undignified incidents in Test history' . Miandad wasn't awarded any punishment while Lillee walked away with a minor fine and a two ODI ban.
These are just a few of the several on-field fights that ran contrary to the spirit of the 'gentleman's game'. Coming up next week: five more famous fights where cricketing action took a backseat.
Till then check out some of my earlier posts on cricket: