On Ramdin’s Note to Sir Viv and the ICC

On Day 4 of the third England-West Indies test match at Edgbaston, after Denesh Ramdin completed his century, pulled out a folded piece of paper that carried the message “YEH, VIV, TALK NAH.” for Sir Viv Richards. Richards, who is in England as a radio commentator, had questioned Ramdin’s cricketing abilities following the string of low scores in the test series.  The ICC Referee for this match, Roshan Mahanama, has charged Ramdin with conduct contrary to the spirit of the game, and Ramdin has pleaded guilty to it, costing him 20% of his match fees.

As expected, Twitter was abuzz with discussion on the fine levied against Ramdin and disappointment in ICC’s action to penalize Ramdin for a note that wasn’t abusive or anything of that sort. And of course, some outrage. After all, what fun is Twitter without some outrage!

There are several aspects to the issue that need to be addressed:

  1. Carrying a folded paper on player’s person to brandish it after a personal milestone
  2. Content of the message itself
  3. Venue
  4. ICC penalizing Ramdin
  5. ICC’s enforcement of the “code of conduct”
  6. Any precedents

Of course, people are correct in questioning, as a fall out of this penalization, how far can celebrations of personal milestones go. Is it alright for a David Warner to do a gravity defying leap, or for a Harbhajan Singh running to square leg, with his team mates in tow and do a tuck and roll, or for a Rahul Dravid to shake his bat at the media box, or for a Nasser Hussain pointing to the number on his back?






How about making personal statements on the field such as the one that Ramdin did? He has done the pull-the-folded-paper-out-of-the-pocket routine before. So has Younis Khan when he thanked his fielding coach Mohtashim Rashid with “Moti, I miss you” message on a piece of paper.

There is an important distinction that needs to be made in the above two sets of instances. The first set of celebrations is more spontaneous, spur of the moment type, whereas the latter is premeditated. Of course, one can say that even the gesturing to the media box with the bat was premeditated but there is no way of knowing unless the player himself says so. Hence, there is a cause for reasonable doubt and to believe that it was just a spontaneous reaction. Whereas, having a piece of paper in the pocket shows, without a shadow of doubt, premeditation. Authorities, as in sporting bodies and in legal system, tend to look at spur of the moment reaction more leniently. Only time even those are brought under the scanner is when they tend to be obscene, objectionable gestures.

Taken in isolation – I cannot stress that enough – Ramdin’s chosen mode of responding to a critic, in my opinion, was deserving of the punishment meted out by ICC. This of course, does not however, condone the ICC for its lack of uniform enforcement of its own code of conduct. Ramdin should have been pulled up before the match referee in 2009 when he premeditated his maiden century celebration. The match referee should have pulled up Younis Khan as well. Even though these two incidents have a heartwarming human element to them and were essentially innocuous in nature – as was Ramdin’s response to Sir Viv, they do however violate the code of conduct.

The most courageous display of personal conviction on a cricket field happened when Henry Olonga and Andy Flower decided to wear black armbands during the 2003 world cup to protest the Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe and to mourn the “death of democracy” in their country. These two players -especially Olonga who had a lot more to lose including loved ones – were saying goodbye to their international playing careers and were choosing a life away from Zimbabwe, never to return.

ICC, if its code of conduct and the enforcement of the same were to be taken seriously, had to bring charges similar to that brought up against Ramdin against Flower and Olonga. As heart wrenching as that scenario was, the code of conduct within which the sport operates cannot be selectively enforced and should be non-negotiable. One exception here, another vague interpretation there, the edifice comes down crumbling. While announcing the penalty, the ICC should also have recognized the personal sacrifices and the courage displayed by these two Zimbabweans, since penalizing them would have been an extremely unpopular move with the fans and the media, and would have saved face for ICC, but more importantly, the right thing to do while upholding the code of conduct.

It is obvious that Ramdin felt aggrieved by the comments made by Sir Viv. He could have expressed his displeasure in a press conference, written a newspaper article or done any number of things but all of them, outside of a cricket field. If he wanted to show up Sir Viv so much, he could have done in the same arena that Richards used – the media. Using a cricket pitch to settle a personal score was a poor choice of venue by Ramdin, and on that specific breach of code of conduct, I do agree with the penalty.

In the National Football League (NFL), there is a strict code of conduct as to the celebrations after scoring a touch down, the behavior of players on the field (in terms of flipping the bird to the crowd, abusing the referees etc.) and even the player uniforms. Brett Favre makes a throat slashing gesture after throwing a touch down, he is fined; Terrell Owens pulls out a Sharpie marker from his socks to sign the ball he scored a touch down with, he is fined; Joe Horn pulls out a cellphone from the uprights (that he planted before the game) and pretend to call someone after the touch down, he is fined;  Chad Johnson wears a “Future Hall of Famer” jacket on the sideline to celebrate a touch down, he is fined; New Orleans Saints players wearing red and green ankle tape which isn’t part of their uniform, all of them fined. The NFL had become so strict that the players, both former and current, and the TV talking heads started calling the NFL, the No Fun League. However, one thing that the NFL cannot be faulted for is their consistent enforcement of the player code of conduct. NFL players still celebrate their touch downs and spectacular plays but when it crosses the line from spontaneous celebration to choreographed, premeditated celebration, the NFL without as much as a second thought brings the hammer down on it.

Some may complain, “All the ICC wants is for cricket to be played by humanoids” but it does nip in the bud such actions. If a Ramdin hoisting a sheet of white paper with four little words that aren’t really objectionable is allowed to get away with it, what is to stop another player bringing a sign that supports something that we may or may not all agree with. It is not the message that is the issue here. It is the action of using the cricket field as his canvas.

What really is required from the ICC is clarity in their player code of conduct – what can the players do and cannot do, and uniformity in enforcing them. ICC cannot be hiding behind the vast umbrella of “actions that bring the game to disrepute and spirit of cricket”. That is just too broad and too vague and allows itself to be abused by the players as well as players getting penalized to varying degrees for the same code breach based on the match referee’s interpretations and leniency. They have to do all the necessary legwork and try to lay the code of conduct without leaving too much for individual interpretations that lead to inconsistent application of the rules. Especially in a sport like Cricket where the players (and the match referees) are of different nations, cultural backgrounds and races, inconsistent enforcement of the code of conduct raises questions about the ability of ICC to steer the ship and preferential treatment of players from certain countries. As seen in the NFL, players will find newer and more creative ways to circumvent the code of conduct but the sport’s governing body needs to be constantly vigilant and keep up with it.

Photo Sources:

ESPN Cricinfo, AndreBaptiste.com, @SanaKazmi, CricBuzz

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23 Responses to On Ramdin’s Note to Sir Viv and the ICC

  1. Benny says:

    More than anything, my grouse with Ramdin is that apparently he thinks that one good century against an attack missing Anderson and Broad in a dead rubber, is some sort of payback for Viv’s comments….

    Also, I would like to know what exactly constitutes the “spirit of the game” that the ICC is hell-bent on protecting….I’m guessing that the war of words between Bresnan and Best were not as damaging to the “spirit” as the #RamdinNote was…

    • thecricketcouch says:

      Benny, Thanks for the comments. Actually even Ramdin doesn’t think a 100 in a dead rubber is a payback for Viv’s comments. If he did, he wouldn’t have gone to the lengths of carrying a note with him and flashing it for the world to see, now, would he?

      On the 2nd point: Anything/Everything it seems. So vague. So inconsistent. It is thoroughly frustrating, at the best of times.

  2. Matt says:

    It comes down simply to not using the sports arena to make a prepared statement. This turns a sporting event into a soapbox. Props only increase the artificial nature of such celebrations.

    The difference between a pre-prepared statement like Ramdin’s and, say, Mark Greatbatch taking a screamer or even Samir Nasri’s celebration today is that it’s very much *not* spur of the moment.

    This is why Flower and Olonga, as noble as their ideals were, needed to be charged. The game, and the whole of the 2003 World Cup became a political issue. It doesn’t even matter that Robert Mugabe had no right of response, no matter if his actions are justifiable or (of course) not.

    As a player, if you’re criticised in a forum, you respond. Using a different forum is no-kay. Ramdin turned a shouldabeen triumph into an exercise in self-justification.

    Let your play do the talking, not your poor spelling. For Ramdin, that should have been enough. His actions had already turned around Richards’ words; his pokey folded-up paper only detracted from his achievement.

    Let’s not go further into how presumptuous it is, either.

    Or how Darren Sammy said “We know from Fire in Babylon how much he did for West Indies cricket”. Perhaps this is why they’re in such strife – they get information about what made the Windies strong from a disappointingly inaccurate and partisan movie, when they have access to the players and administrators themselves!!

  3. Mykuhl says:

    I agree. I think Mahanama got the balance right. A moderate fine and an appropriatly worded statement.

    It wasn’t a capital crime that he committed, but it also wasn’t there right place for that.

    • thecricketcouch says:

      @mykuhl – Certainly. Taken in isolation, I do feel that the issue was handled properly by the authorities. But it does beg the question, why wasn’t Ramdin pulled up the first time he did such a thing, when he scored a 100 vs England in 2009? Is it because this was aimed at Vivian Richards? Or, a member of the media? I do not know. ICC needs to clarify that aspect of it. But the essence of the verdict, I do agree with it, as a cricket field isn’t the place for it.

  4. Soulberry says:

    True. Well said. In isolation, Ramdin’s “message salute” appears as outrageously silly as the Olympic “power salute” of 1968 but I am not sure there isn’t simmering in the region today along similar lines as to what brought about that power salute to happen years ago by a peoples. We can only go by what West Indies cricket fans have expressed from time to time on various web based forums (thanks to internet we are able), on what makes them feel oppressed even today, and who is perceived as an oppressor and oppressed, and by whom and why, in the region.

    As onlookers, we must take these quasi-anonymous outpourings wih a generous pinch of salt – not having visited the region as a tourist nor having lived there to understand the day to day atmosphere.

    However, a consistent perusal of contents posted in two-three of the most popular forums over a period of time, and reading the debates that rage there on very fundamental issues, one also cannot help but believe there are constant undercurrents in the Caribbeans.

    Then there is their cricket, their recent turmoils and a distinct feeling that there mayn’t be very many chances for certain kinds of peoples given the Samson like rhetoric that flows out of administrators.

    Personally, my feeling is this sense of insecurity has less to do with peoples and more with plain old competition – the encouragement being given by current administation to anyone who is willing to perform on behalf of West Indies with honour and impatience with failure, has created a highly-strung atmosphere in the region that takes many expressions and explanations as per the intellect and ability of people “feeling the heat” so to speak.

    It is entirely possible that Ramdin, who is on a delicately poised comeback, won through domestic performance and in the face of much egional competition and resistance, felt seriously pressured by the specific public criticism by a legend of, not just West Indies and world cricket, but also one who has vocalized fearlessly the pan-African “black power” movement during his own playing time. ( <a href="http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004459&quot; title="Pace, race, and resistance").

    Which brings us back to the peoples who continue to feel Kanhai and Kalli were not given their due by the region they played for. Kallicharan chose loyalty to West Indies cricket, and led the West Indies team to India with pride while Clive Llloyd's band of men were off to the Packer's to make some monies. When they returned, it is felt, Kalli was tossed aside contemptuosly.

    We cannot pretend to be judges, but it is possible such things remain irksome in certain contexts…especially of cricket.

    This combined insecurity of being Ramdin in West Indies cricket context – the fizzling out end of a hard-fought comeback trail and the historical perspective – might have prompted such a bold expression by him against Vivian Richard's specific public criticism, I suspect, more out of relief at beating the odds of mediocrity that bedeviled his cricket and current threat to his revived career than as a profound statement of peoples.

    But as I've kept saying, who are we to know and judge?

    I agree greater even-handedness is required of Match Refs and ICC and must include all brats in world cricket, be they an Englishman, Sri Lankan, Australian or a West Indian, and so on and so forth..all inclusive and not selective.

    The current debate on ICC's action, as opposed to the West Indies's own internal churning, is probably due to this lack of palpable and visible even-handedness for similar crimes enacted on the field of cricket.

    Sorry bhai for rambling on…apologies.

  5. kartikeya says:

    I would take a slightly different view. I think the problem with the ICC’s Code of Conduct is that it seeks to make general character judgments and its clauses are written too broadly. 2.1.7 for example, could basically apply to anything, at any time (not necessarily during a Test, or on the field of play).

    However, 2.1.7 was not applied to Graeme Swann recently even though he accused a Sri Lankan player of cheating, called him a cheat, said the player made him want to throw up, and said that he felt like he wanted to kill him! I recorded this:


    The problem for the Code of Conduct is mainly two fold:

    1. It takes on too much and it does not have the resources to conduct inquiries into weighty matters like racism etc.
    2. This is a more practical problem – it is the problem of reporting. The Match Referee is not allowed to bring a charge. Team Managers, Umpires, Chief Executives of Cricket Boards, or the CEO of the ICC can bring a charge. In some rare instances (like Harbhajan Singh monkeygate) a team brings a charge. Otherwise it is up to the Umpires to bring the charge. They have too much to do in order to bring a charge effectively, and usually don’t. In the Swann case, it was not clear where the charge could be laid and by whom. The only thing that was clear was that a charge was merited, and that Swann was under the ICC’s jurisdiction!

    So the problem is not the referees or the Umpires, but the way the Code is written and the standards for its implementation.

    I think there has to be discretion in both bringing charges as well as adjudicating on them. The problem with the ICC is that its discretion is inadvertant – through omission.

    • thecricketcouch says:

      Kartikeya, Thanks for the comment. I am aware of the posts you had written regarding Swann accusing a SL player during a warm up game in the lead up to the Eng-SL series. The code of conduct needs to get down to specifics, provide the nuts and bolts of its construct instead of being generally vague and opaque. As it stands now, anything and everything could be brought under the umbrella of spirit of cricket. ICC, it seems, does not want to do the necessary work to lay out a detailed code of conduct with any amount of specificity. Of course, even after that, they still have to apply it uniformly. As you said, it starts with on-field umpires initiating it, and match referees following up with an enquiry, and penalty, if found guilty. Even for cases that are reported, the individual interpretation (or bias, as it is sometimes noted, by fans) of the match referees leads to disproportionate, inconsistent penalties.

  6. Thejas says:

    Sports needs some characters, some fire every now and again.

    It’s very simplistic to say just ban all paper tributes. The referee in the FIFA World Cup final was widely condemned for showing a yellow card to Andres Iniesta for taking off his jersey (as per the rules) to pay tribute to a dead former team mate and friend, Dani Jarque.

    In a contrasting incident, the referee in a Bolton came did not yellow card Gary Cahill for removing his jersey to reveal a “Pray for Muamba” t shirt, and was widely hailed for that.

    Some displays, though pre meditated are genuine feelings that a sportsman wants to convey. So a blanket rule would be highly insensitive. Players should be allowed to convey certain emotion and feelings on the field. Pre meditated or not.

    • Thejas says:

      Slight error: The Gary Cahill incident was in a Chelsea game. He had moved by then.

    • thecricketcouch says:

      @Jazz IMO, the ref was right to YC Iniesta, as humane the situation may have been. FIFA needs to clarify that although they are sympathetic to Iniesta’s views and his version of tribute to a former team mate, there are rules and they are in place for a reason, extenuating circumstances notwithstanding. That’s the same logic I stated regarding the Olonga/Flower situation.

      • Thejas says:

        You can’t take the emotion and circumstance out of disciplinary issues man. Simple. It gets too complicated then.

  7. Siva says:

    I find that you have based your entire argument – on why Ramdin’s case is different and why it deserved a punishment from ICC – on a very convenient but rather very loose assumption called “premeditation”. Unless someone’s just plain naive, i even find it extremely funny that anyone who knows about the game and has played it at least at gully cricket level can even fall into that trap. Nothing is ‘spur of the moment’ as far as gestures against someone after proving a point on the field is concerned. You read/hear something written/said about you. You tell yourself “i’m gonna give it back to that b*****d soon and i will wait till i prove it on the field”. And the moment that happens, BOOM. Everything is THAT premeditated. Everyone from Greatbatch to Nasser Hussain to Dravid in recent past & countless other cricketers since time immemorial have done exactly the same. What Ramdin did was nothing different. A simple extension of this is had Ramdin merely mouthed off like Greatbatch/Nass/Dravid (what with today television picking up every word he says), agitatedly pointing his fingers at the commentary box you would’ve just considered it as “spur of the moment”. If that doesn’t make this assumption a daft one, i don’t know what is.

    If not anything, cut the man some slack for being so confident about scoring that he carried a piece of paper with something written on it in poor English. There is at least some kind of charm and the typical cricketing romance associated with it. These are moments and the human elements that make the game as likeable as it still is. At worst, what he did was merely stupid. Maybe deserving some reprimand by the WICB for not showing a legend of the game some respect. That’s all there is to this.

    This tripe around ‘spirit of cricket’ has reached such alarming levels these days that in the near future only robots will be well suited to play the game. As it is the idiots in ICC are doing their best to kill the human element. And on top of this you have such inconsistent sporadic application of the laws. As long as a player doesn’t abuse either of the 3 human elements involved in the game, an umpire or an opponent or the spectator (however heckling & abusive the other side can get), he is perfectly justified in reacting whatever way he wants to against any criticism. And no, i don’t think it’s even right to equate a reaction to criticism and extend it to something totally unrelated like “what if some other player uses similar method to hold up a paper and say DEAR ICC, SHARAD PAWAR IS YOUR PRESIDENT. LULZ”. We are merely talking about players reacting to criticism in a way they like without resorting to abuse and that’s all there’s to this.

    And i find it even more funny that instead of questioning the entire stupidity of ICC poking its nose around this incident, you are actually advocating that even in the past incident involving Ramdin & Younis, the ICC should’ve fined them. This is exactly the kind of muddled up thinking that will soon make cricket a sport conducive only for robots. And this is exactly the kind of muddle up thinking that has made ICC the joke that it is today.

    That entire last para in this piece is something i completely agree with. And i am sure everyone else who follows this game will agree with it as well. Simply because that bit is a no-brainer.

    P.S: My theory is that the ICC did what it did merely because it involved a past great of the game. Had this been some ordinary commentator or even for that matter Nass, i don’t think ICC would’ve even bothered. The more i think of that theory, the more i find it funny because ICC is kind of reacting to this like what a Viv fanboy like me would’ve reacted. Oh well….

    • thecricketcouch says:


      When Nasser or Dravid gesticulated the way they did after their 100’s, at least there was a scope for giving them the benefit of the doubt that it was a spur of the moment thing. By bringing in a piece of paper on your person, you remove any chance the match ref can give you that lee way.

      Regarding “spirit of cricket”, as I have said in the post, ICC needs to get more specific than the current vague interpretations which allows them as well as the officials and players to hide behind quite conveniently. I don’t disagree with you there. When they can lay out the code clearly with specificity, they can then be able to enforce it uniformly.

      Regarding my claim as to Younis and Ramdin’s prior incident should have been fined, it is the farthest thing from “muddle thinking”. In fact it is quite clear cut. You don’t bring pieces of paper in to make whatever statement you have to make. End of story. Consistent. Clear.

      Of course, one can only wonder whether Ramdin was penalized because it was Richards. But IMO, it is not the message or the target. It is the action. As I said, taken in isolation, ICC’s ruling was right. But considering they didn’t penalize Ramdin for his earlier note incident, it looks a sham.

      • Siva says:


        By saying “at least there was a scope to consider it as a spur of the moment thing”, you are just trying to force fit some justification and try to make this incident different from any other outburst. The point was that nothing is spur of the moment and everything is premeditated when it comes to proving a point and asking some detractor to STFU. Precisely why i mentioned the situation where Ramadin could’ve just mouthed the same stuff gesticulating towards the media box. Frankly, an agitated face gesticulating towards media makes as worse a scene (if not worse) than a calm showing a piece of paper towards the media box.

        And no, it is still muddled up thinking because of the simple reasoning that you will then make cricket suitable only for humanoids. Of course, there’s no doubt that even Ramdin & Younis earlier *could have been* fined under the overall ambit of that stupid vague law. The point wasn’t even about whether it was right as per the law. The point was whether it was stupid or not.

        And no, unless the ICC starts penalising every player who ever makes a gesture towards the media box, i have every reason to believe that this particular instance was more about the target than the action.

        • thecricketcouch says:

          Agree to Disagree, on whether Ramdin should have done this at all.

          I do think he could done exactly the same thing in a press conference, I’d have been okay with it. Not sure, how ICC would have look at it, then? Would they have still penalized him then also? If they did, I’d then be more inclined to believe it was about the target.

          • Siva says:

            Why should that event (press conf.) be the condition to believe this was about the target? That’s not even comparable. What is comparable though is whether ICC would’ve done the same thing if for eg. there was some popular local journalist called Ramkissoon who’d written some scathing piece about him & the piece of paper said “Yeah Ram, Talk Nah”….But then we’ll never know and i’m more inclined to believe that ICC would’ve probably let him off with a warning.

            I notice that you’ve not responded on the other hypothesis that i’d put forward. What if Ramdin had gesticulated wildly towards the media box AND shouted at the top of his voice “Yeah Viv, Talk Nah” ? Wouldn’t that have been an uglier sight? Do you really think the ICC would’ve meted out the same punishment?

            If they condone that as “spur of the moment” isn’t it too naive and silly to consider that outburst as “spur of the moment” ? Even for a moment one is allowed to be naive and consider that as “spur of the moment” (and because you seem to be very considerate about not penalizing those reactions), how and why on earth is an ugly “spur of the moment” outburst (which is no less a basic human reaction) any less worthy of penalizing than a non-abusive simple piece of paper shown quietly without much fuss by someone who proves a point to somebody who said something wrong about his ability to play at the highest level (another basic human reaction)? Why should you even draw that line? Why not penalise the Greatbatches and the Hussains & the Dravids as well?

            And then let ICC also penalise the Ramdins (circa 2009) and Younis Khans for carrying yet another non-abusive piece of paper that is a result of yet another basic human emotion (thanking people)….oh while we are at it (and since we are drawing parallel to American football and what not), let us also insist that FIFA should’ve fined 20% of Iniesta for a gesture totally unbecoming of a champion player who just won his team a world cup with a winning goal – for the audacity to carry a premeditated message dedicating the goal to his dear old dead friend…i mean, how dare any sportsperson bring in silly things like (non-abusive) human emotions into the field of play and sully the name of the sport!

            P.S: I don’t really expect you to answer each and every question in the earlier part of this reply. Those were meant to be just rhetoric. Simply because i know that what you and me and everyone else will agree upon is just the last para of your original piece 🙂

          • thecricketcouch says:


            I said the press conference was a better venue because 1) He is addressing criticism lodged against him on the same avenue and 2) He would have had time to mull over his emotions (but more importantly the first point).

            My question regarding Iniesta’s tribute to his dead dear friend — If he didn’t score a goal or Spain didn’t win, would he have done the same thing? Why would that be any different a scenario? Win or lose, score a goal or not, his feelings for his dead friend is the same, right? Why is it that athletes have to respond to criticism, display their love, show their gratitude and sensitive side, when they win or achieve some personal glory? Why make the field of sport anything more than what it is? Why do they have to parade their personal emotions and convictions – however benevolent, non-abusive, touching or otherwise – they might be.

            Regarding the hypothetical situation with Ram Kissoon, I’d like to believe that ICC would have handled it the same away. But the fact is that you don’t and you or your cynicism aren’t the ones to blamed for it. It is the ICC’s lack of clarity and non-uniform application of their codes.

            As I mentioned in the post, there are 2 aspects of this issue. 1) Taken in isolation, the punishment was right 2) ICC is useless.

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