All-rounder Daryl Mitchell has become the fourth New Zealand player to win the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award after Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson. Mitchell has been named the recipient of the ICC honour in 2021 for his gesture of refusing to take a run during the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final against England in Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium on November 10, 2021.
On the first ball of the 18th over bowled by spinner Adil Rashid, non-striker Mitchell opted against taking an easy run on offer conceding that he obstructed Rashid. While it was clear Mitchell had no such intention, and he only attempted to get back inside the crease after striker James Neesham slapped the ball down the ground, that Mitchell got in the bowler’s way was enough for him to refuse a single despite the game being in a tense situation as New Zealand’s attempt to chase 167 was nearing its end.
Former England cricketer Nasser Hussain, who was commentating at the time, heaped immense praises after Mitchell’s gesture. “That is very good. That is so New Zealand, it really is. So easy to take a run there. But the non-strike said, ‘No, I’ve got in the way of Adil.’ Anything sums up New Zealand cricket – it was that,” he said.
Explaining why he chose to refuse the run, Mitchell, as quoted by ICC, said, “It was a pretty tight game against England in that semi-final, with only a few overs to go. Neesh (Jimmy Neesham) hit a single down to long-off I think it was, and I felt like I’d obstructed Rashid from getting to the ball. “The game that we play, we play it because we love it. Yes, we want to win as much as we can, but we don’t want that to come about from doing things that go against the values of cricket. Spirit of Cricket is vitally important. It sets a platform for kids in the future, who will go about playing the game in the right way. At the end of the day, it is a game, it’s something that we love. So obviously we’re so lucky to do that,” he added.
The preamble to the laws of cricket defines the Spirit of Cricket as: “Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the spirit of the game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself.” The spirit of the game involves respect for: Your opponents, your own captain and team,the role of the umpires, the game’s traditional values.