Cricket World Cup: Wahab Riaz, Shane Watson fined by ICC over quarter-final duel

Watson makes most of reprieve
Nanjing Night Net

The confrontation that accompanied a duel likely to be remembered as the most memorable of the World Cup, between Wahab Riaz and Shane Watson, has triggered fines for both from the ICC.

The ICC said on Friday night that the Pakistan fast bowler and Australia all-rounder had been charged for their conduct in the quarter-final at Adelaide Oval. The penalties were announced on Saturday: Riaz 50 per cent of his match fee, Watson 15 per cent of his. The penalty for the Pakistani was the maximum allowed for a level-one charge.

Watson is renowned for delighting in on-field sledging of opponents, a far cry from his off-field persona. On this occasion, however, the confrontation was triggered by the actions of Riaz, who when batting earlier became enraged when bowler Mitch Starc mockingly suggested he attempt to hit the ball.

The first delivery from Riaz to Watson was a searing bouncer, after which the left-armer ran past Watson to the other end of the pitch. After the second delivery – rated at 150km/h – which Watson declined to play a shot at, Riaz approached him and mock clapped him.

Riaz’s temper worsened when he tempted Watson into a pull shot that he top edged, only for Rahat Ali to fumble what should have been a simple catch. Watson was on four.

The Australia all-rounder went on to score 64 not out to guide his team to a six-wicket victory, passing Pakistan’s total of 213 with 97 balls to spare. Late in the match he dispatched Riaz, who was flagging after a phenomenal six-over opening spell, to and over the boundary with decisive shots. This prompted Riaz to renew his verbal attack on Watson, who in response simply smiled back at him.

The exchange that led to the fining of both players occurred just before the end of the match. According to the ICC, it arose in the 33rd over “when Watson ignored the umpires’ instructions and verbally engaged with Riaz, who, at the end of the over, followed through towards the batsman and used aggressive and abusive language”.

Watson was charged with conduct contrary to the spirit of the game, Riaz with using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting.

A hearing was not required as both players accepted the charge against them, and the resulting penalty.

Match referee Ranjan Madugalle defended the disciplinary action against the pair.

“It was an enthralling contest between Shane and Wahab, but in the closing stages of the match both players crossed that fine line between intense competition and unacceptable behaviour, and this resulted in the sanctions,” he said.

Riaz explained after the match that Watson had, like Starc, been mocking him during the Pakistan innings.

“When I was batting, Watson just came up to me and said, ‘Are you holding a bat?’ And that was going through my mind,” Riaz explained after the match to ESPNcricinfo. “I let him know that even he is having the bat, but he couldn’t touch the ball.

“I know that nowadays, he’s not good on the short ball. It was a plan of myself that we discussed in the team meeting.”

The spell of Riaz was rated by Australia captain Michael Clarke as “as good as I’ve faced in one-day cricket for a long time”.

“It probably gave us a good look on what it would’ve been like to face Mitchell Johnson throughout the Ashes [last summer],” he said.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was similarly effusive in his praise of Riaz’s bowling, arguing that on form the left-armer was among the best fast bowlers in the world.

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