Those seeking to knock Andrew Strauss from the perch he occupies as the most magnanimous captain in world cricket suffered a severe setback yesterday. The International Cricket Council offered unequivocal backing to Strauss in the decision to deny a runner to the South Africa batsman, Graeme Smith during the Champions Trophy tie on Sunday night.
Smith was on 121 when he was afflicted by tiredness and cramp. A runner, minus the encumbrance of a thigh pad, was dispatched from the South Africa dressing room and not long after was sent back again. Although Smith did not directly complain after his side's loss by 22 runs he did point out that as a captain things tended to come round again.
But yesterday an ICC spokesman said: "It was the umpires' decision not Andrew Strauss's. They took the view that tiredness plays a part in a long innings and that cramp is part of tiredness. This is not covered in law 2.1a and the umpires therefore did not think a runner was merited.
"I don't know what would have happened if Strauss had insisted on a runner but it is the umpires' decision. This is how it will be interpreted for the rest of this tournament. They will, however, have a look at the regulation at the end of the series to see if any refinement is required."
Strauss was roundly praised last week for his decision to recall the Sri Lanka batsman Angelo Mathews after an accidental mid-pitch collision caused him to be run out. And he remains the good guy.
Yesterday Eoin Morgan and all-rounder Tim Bresnan were awarded incremental contracts by the ECB. They will be rewarded for their appearances between October 1, 2008, and September 30, 2009. Both reached the 20-point threshold for the award of these contracts – with five appearance points awarded for a Test appearance and two points for a one-day or Twenty20 international.
Morgan, who has struck two half-centuries at the Champions Trophy, made his 10th limited-overs appearance against Sri Lanka last Friday. Bresnan achieved the 20-point mark during the series against Australia.