Former Indian cricketer and renowned Cricket Commentator –Sanjay Manjrekar, on Friday, was outspoken about modern era’s stump mics, saying it should be turned off during matches as it doesn't allow players to say what they want during matches.
He further said that the players, in the past, knew their actions were being watched, but they still had the freedom to say things they wanted, but today, they don’t have that freedom because of the stump mics which are in play. Manjrekar also said that the players should be watched and not heard on the field, as the umpires don't get to hear half the things that the spectators are watching do.
At the moment, the cricketers are in the news for the wrong reasons like Kagiso Rabada, who was suspended by the ICC for rubbing his shoulder to Steve Smith in a Test match. Previously, India’s MS Dhoni was in news for losing his cool at Manish Payday during South Africa series last month.
In his column for ESPN Cricinfo, Manjrekar wrote, “It's a myth, really, that players in the old days were gentlemen and today's are ruffians. But, some might say: players didn't abuse each other as much then, nor was their language so foul and the tone so personal. Well, to that I say: how would you know that? Having played in the '90s I am here to tell you, nothing much has changed in this regard too. What has changed is that today the stump mics are switched on at loud volume all the time, to catch every word said on the field.”
He added, “I believe that more than language, it's actions and gestures that have to be censored, for those are visible to all, even the public at the ground. That sort of thing is actually dissent in public - as opposed to a close-up of an anguished face of a fast bowler muttering something. This will ensure uniform application of the penalty system. Kagiso Rabada being penalized for making physical contact with Steven Smith, makes sense. There has to be zero tolerance for such behavior.”
Commenting on modern era’s player’s freedom, the commentator wrote, “In the past, the playing field in many ways was a private space for the players, despite being so public. Players then knew their actions were being watched, but they still had the freedom to say things they wanted. This was mainly between players from the same team, and when something was said to an opposition player, it was done in a way that the umpire could not hear. But with some broadcasters keeping the stump mics on all the time, and at full volume - despite ICC guidelines that say that once the ball is dead, the stump-mic volume must be pulled down - that freedom too is now lost for the players.”
On Dhoni-Manish saga, Manjrekar wrote, “You know what is really shocking? In the last South Africa-Australia Test, all that was said on the field was heard by us at home, and the umpires on the field only learned of it second hand. The umpires don't get to hear half the things that we who are watching do, because they are not wired up to the stump microphones like we are. Surely this can't be right. There is a video doing the rounds of MS Dhoni saying something to Manish Pandey in South Africa recently. The language in it would make you cringe.”
He signed off by saying, “The stump mic had no business being on well after the ball was dead. This is plain eavesdropping: to get some spicy gossip just for our entertainment, it has nothing to do with covering or enhancing the game. There is a certain sort of language that's spoken on a cricket field, and it's not for everyone. Cricketers are best watched, not heard.”