Sidebottom sets dignified example after Rauf blunder

Anyone gathering evidence to support the contention that cricket remains a noble sport should have witnessed two men here yesterday. As Sri Lanka's players were walking from the field in triumph after winning the first Test, the England team emerged to shake hands.

At the very end of the line, Ryan Sidebottom of England reached the estimable Pakistani umpire, Asad Rauf. The nerves tingled. Rauf leaned forward, touched Sidebottom gently on the elbow and whispered in his ear. It was not exactly a sweet nothing, but it was close to it.

Sidebottom nodded appreciatively, squeezed the umpire's hand and then turned and joined his mates. There was nothing more to it but the gesture said much about cricket and cricketers and the people who stand in adjudication on them. Despite all, the old game still observes some of the old proprieties.

Rauf was apologising for the decision he had made only 20 minutes earlier to give Sidebottom out and end England's last faint but realistic aspiration of saving the match, and perhaps with it the series. Sidebottom, facing Muttiah Muralitharan, had probably misinterpreted the great man's intentions but the ball took his inside edge on its way to his back pad.

The deviation was great enough to have had the buzzers exploding on Just a Minute. The ball moved perhaps six inches. Rauf should have spotted it, or maybe he thought Murali can make the ball move two different ways after pitching. Whatever, Sidebottom was on his way and if the man who had defied Pakistan for 99 minutes in the first innings did not exactly sprint to the dressing room, he none the less went. When Rauf apologised, Sidebottom was immediately gracious.

Sidebottom's departure left at the crease Matthew Hoggard, a bowler with a bad back, and Monty Panesar, which in batting terms amounts to the same thing. The end soon came. What a Test match it had been: records for Murali and Kumar Sangakkara, the 100th match for Chaminda Vaas, the 110th and last for the legendary Sanath Jayasuriya, who has retired.

Rauf had played a key part in the proceedings. He had been called on to answer a succession of appeals, usually for leg before, sometimes for close catches. Usually, both he and his colleague Aleem Dar got it right. They were exemplary, and are two of the best four or four five umpires in the world.

It was unfortunate that Rauf erred when he did, but it was a reminder that long days in the field affect umpires as well as players. It was also pertinent to think that two of the game's top officials are from Pakistan. Not so long ago Pakistani umpires were considered to be poor if they were not cheats and sometimes both, judgements that were not invariably imbued with racism.

England will find it extremely difficult to come back from here and will need a repeat of their heroics six years ago when they won 2-1 after losing the first match. The roof has not quite caved in, as it did much less figuratively, on the England supporters under the old makeshift stands yesterday morning.

The strong breeze removed several pieces of corrugated iron sheeting. Five people were reported to be slightly injured, with one needing hospital treatment.

The tourists left for the four (perhaps five) hour coach journey to Colombo straight after the match. Hoggard, who will almost certainly miss the second Test starting on Sunday probably had to lie in the luggage rack to ease his back.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea