The Yorkshire-Lancashire T20 Blast 2021 fixture played in Manchester on Saturday (July 17) witnessed an act of sportsmanship from the visiting side as their skipper Joe Root and his players decided against running injured opposition batsman Steven Croft out on the field.
Despite Lancashire only needing a further 15 runs off 18 balls in a low-scoring thriller from the North Group, Yorkshire opted to refrain from a run-out when Croft stumbled and seems to have hurt his hamstring while trying to get across for a single.
The incident took place on the first ball of the 18th over in the run-chase when batsman Luke Wells hit the ball straight to the mid-off fielder, who aimed for the stumps at the non-striker’s end and missed it as Wells dived to try and complete a single.
At the other end, though, Croft was nowhere in the picture as the close-in fielder collected the ball and threw it to the standing wicketkeeper. Just when it seemed an easy run-out is in the offing, however, Yorkshire players saw a grimacing Croft down on the ground holding his left foot and avoided the run-out at Root’s behest.
But they later found out that Croft’s injury is only a cramp when the batsman recovered and continued with his innings. The right-hand batsman saw his team through and remained 26 not out.
Yorkshire captain Joe Root admitted it was a difficult decision on his team’s part not to run out an injured Croft when they could’ve easily taken the bails off and then check on the hurting non-striker.
“As a side we made a very difficult decision under pressure,” Root was quoted as saying after the match by cricket.com.au.
“(Croft’s injury) looked very serious at first glance. In many ways it was a relief it was nothing serious.”
“I am sure there will be many different opinions. Many people would have handled it differently.”
Croft was quite appreciating of Root and his team’s sportsmanship and said it was the warm weather that had got to him and it resulted in a cramp.
“Two games in two days at 36 (years old) and a bit of sun has done me,” he said. “I put the brakes on, they worked, and my legs just cramped up. I didn’t know where the ball had gone. They could have taken the bails off and credit to them that they didn’t.”
Root’s call, however, has divided opinions among fans and experts. While some have celebrated it as a great gesture upholding the ‘spirit of cricket’, others believe that Yorkshire should’ve run out Croft since his fall and cramp was not their fault.
Two former players Mark Butcher and Rob Key, part of the commentary panel for the Yorkshire-Lancashire T20 Blast game, gave completely contrasting opinions on the matter. For Butcher, Yorkshire were wrong in letting themselves sway away with the emotion.
“I can’t believe what I’ve just there, frankly, as a professional sportsman,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m baffled by that, I really am. Croft changed his mind halfway through the run and decided to put the anchors on. And because of that, whether or not he’s got full spikes on, he slipped.”
“It’s not up to Yorkshire to decide if he’s got a problem or he’s broken his leg or his leg’s fallen off. Run him out and deal with it afterwards. I found the whole thing completely bizarre.”
But Key disagreed, stating Yorkshire wouldn’t have immediately known of the extent of Croft’s injury and did the right thing by not running him out.
“When he went down, you don’t know if he had cramp,” Key said. “All you see is him rolling around on the ground and he can’t continue, he can’t even try and get back in.”
“It’s one of those things where people will agree and disagree with and have their point of view.”
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