The Bairstow Controversy and Grudge

The Bairstow Controversy and Grudge

“Such a grudge against each other in this Bairstow controversy! What’s your take? He walked out of the crease thinking the ball was dead. So thought the leg umpire too. But it was not the case. They declared him out.” Lulu was looking up the newspapers.

“My take? Well, there are opinions galore! They dug up the archives and showed how Samit Patel was similarly stumped by Bairstow in a county match.” I switched off my TV which was showing the third Ashes test.

“You mean people practice double standards. But that does not settle the issue. What is your take, that was the question?”

“It is rule versus fair play. Cricket is, after all, a gentleman’s game.”

(Lulu, My Parrot)

“Now! What does that mean?”

“It means that no excessive appeal, if a batsman knows he is out he should walk out without waiting for the umpire’s decision.”

“The Bairstow controversy fanned hostile reactions. In this case the prime ministers of both the countries got involved, making statements in favour of their teams.”

“The whole issue just blew up. And subsequent events show the grudge both teams hold against each other.”

“Grudge! Yes, that’s the word. That ‘someone cheated on me’ is such a difficult feeling. Negative feeling. It is difficult to get rid of that feeling.”


“Did you have a grudge against someone?”

“A long list!” I had a hearty laugh. “I remember PG Wodehouse’s ‘Laughing Gas.’ Joey who is a little boy finds that his soul is exchanged with Reggie who is a big man and looks like a Gorilla. Now that Joey’s soul has a new big man’s body, he decides to execute what he always wanted to do – bash up some people. And he had, as a child, kept a list of ‘to-be-bashed-up’ people too. Hilarious! This is where Wodehouse takes a grudge to its ‘logical consequence’, I guess.”

“So, you wanted to bash up some people?”

“Certainly, I regret not bashing them up so far.”

“Why did you not bash them up?”

“Oh, it’s a feeling. In practice we are unlikely to do it.”

“You just hold on to your grudge. Right? Take a look here” Lulu pointed out to a page on my laptop, “On average, the longest adults have ever held onto a grudge is five years — but 15 per cent have maintained one for 11 years or more.” 

“Wow! Must be true.”

“Who suffers more? The one who holds a grudge or the person against whom it is held?”

“Obviously, the one who holds it. Sometimes you ask questions as if you are cross examining me. I don’t like it.”

“Bairstow and the English team sought sympathy for being wronged. But did they succeed? Not much, or not at all, depending which side you support. That is what happens to the holder of a grudge. He tries to evoke sympathy, but it is never a ‘success’ story.”

“Irreconcilable differences. Parties take opposite views. True.”

“People who hold grudges think that they are morally superior. That’s the problem. Those are ruminative feelings. But remember that resentment drains people. They chew injustice suffered like a dog chewing on a bone.

“Easy said, difficult to practice.”

“People who forget and forgive lead a better life. We expect people to be perfect, but in reality, they are a bundle of controversies. Bairstow had done to Samit Patel what the Aussie wicket keeper did to him.”

“So what?”

“So talk it over. Some actions happen on the spur of moment, impulsively. In other cases, perspectives differ and motives are only too easily attributed. Even the wrong-doers would apologize if the victim opens a dialogue.

“But that would not come easily”

“Yes, it does not come easily. Those are difficult conversations which convey a point, and also do not break relationships.”

“Hmmm …..”

“Imagine Bairstow sitting down with Aussie wicket keeper Alex Carey and asking him ‘Why did you do that? We always expected you to play the game as much by conventions as by rule.’”

“In all probability, he would have apologized. But what if he did not?”

“Well, opening a dialogue does not mean pardoning. Nor does it mean condoning. You are not saying that the action was okay. It only means that there is an opportunity to forgive quickly.”

“It is difficult ….”

“I understand you. In almost every relationship comes a time when forgiving keeps it intact. Carrying a grudge can only damage the victim, never the wrongdoer.”

“I see your point.”

“Have you ever seen the sail of a boat?”


“It is not made of one single piece of cloth. It is made of many pieces stitched together. Relationships are like those pieces of the sail. They, like the sail, provide propulsive force to our life. Forgiving is the glue or the thread that keeps relationships together.”

“And I now realize that competitive spirit can only damage it, like the Bairstow controversy.”

Lulu hopped, fluttered his wings and moved closer to me.

PS: Photos Courtesy Unsplash

Vivek S Patwardhan

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” / Read more Lulu blogs in my book ‘The Lulu Duologues’