Somerset fume at run out by old pal Murali Kartik
MURALI Kartik sparked angry scenes on his return to Taunton, with a controversial run-out of Alex Barrow that left Somerset fuming over actions they believed showed a flagrant disregard for the spirit of cricket.
The Indian left-arm spinner, who left Somerset for Surrey at the end of last season, had claimed three lbws on the third day of his club's championship clash at Taunton when he ran out Barrow, who was backing up at the non-striker's end, for 12.
Kartik, who had earlier warned Barrow about leaving his ground, noticed the 20-year-old had again strayed from his crease as he prepared to bowl the final ball of the 55th over – and, instead of delivering the ball, whipped the bails off and appealed.
Umpire Peter Hartley asked Surrey skipper Gareth Batty three times whether he wished to withdraw the appeal, but each time Batty declined – and Barrow was dismissed as boos rang around the County Ground.
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Angry Somerset supporters confronted the Surrey players in front of the pavilion at tea, with home captain Marcus Trescothick leaving the changing room to speak personally with one furious spectator.
The cricket played second-fiddle to the drama and tension of Kartik and Batty's questionable conduct – and Pete Trego's magnificent 92 in Somerset's total of 294, a first-innings deficit of 23 was overshadowed.
"I heard a lot of 'the laws of cricket' when I was out there from their captain – but I think it was quite clearly not a laws of cricket incident but a spirit of cricket incident," said Trego.
"I think they now realise that they made a huge misjudgement and, fair play to them, I think there are a few apologies flying around. I think they can probably look back on it as a pretty average part of the season.
"I've never heard the crowd so vocal – and rightfully so. We've got a decent, honest bunch of people that come down here and watch the cricket – they are cricket lovers. I don't think they're even particularly partisan, they just enjoy good cricket, and that incident certainly fired them up.
"It was a spirit of cricket incident and, unfortunately, they got it horribly wrong. I've never seen that happen before, not even in fourth XI Sunday village cricket, so for it to happen in a professional game is ludicrous and will hopefully never happen again."
The dismissal was incredibly harsh, not least because it affected Barrow, a young batsman who has struggled for runs this season. But Trego added: "There are two ways to look at it: he's probably the most famous cricketer in the world at the moment, so it's raised his profile no end!"
Somerset captain Trescothick, who was expecting to be approached by Batty after conducting his media duties, said he would have withdrawn such an appeal had it been made by one of his bowlers.
"Yes – in those circumstances I would," he said. "It's not what you come to expect in county cricket.
"I've never seen it before and never been part of a game where it's happened. The game doesn't need to come to that – it's not the game that we want to play.
"I know Gareth wants to speak to me to discuss, and I think to apologise, and we'll move on."
Somerset, who had resumed on 42-2, reached 151-2 at lunch after James Hildreth, who had been dropped on 25, reached 85 and Chris Jones 50 in a partnership of 135. But the game came to life shortly after lunch, when Kartik had Hildreth lbw sweeping, then Jones (50) and Jos Buttler (14) defending.
The former Somerset man celebrated each wicket wildly – and then, with the total on 191, he ran out Barrow in the circumstances that so upset the home players and supporters.
A contrite Surrey captain, Batty, later admitted: "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Had I had longer to consider things, I might not have made the same decision."
Team director, Chris Adams, had earlier confessed that he felt "in terms of upholding the laws of cricket, it was the right decision, but I think the situation certainly challenges the spirit of cricket – and that's regrettable".
Kartik, meanwhile, took to his Twitter account to write: "Everyone get a life please.. if a batsman is out on a stroll in spite of being warned, does that count as being in the spirit of the game?"
It was a shame that Trego's 110-ball 92, complete with 13 fours and two sixes – both off Kartik – was so overshadowed, while Surrey reached 58-0 by the close, a lead of 81.