This is one of those nice parts of cricket which help to make it, in my opinion, the best game in the world. I hope you’ll agree as I talk you through the guard of honour.
What is a Guard of Honour in Cricket?
A Guard of Honour in cricket is an informal gesture which is carried out by an opposition team to mark a player’s retirement.
As the player who is retiring takes to the field of play, the opponents line up either side and applaud them as they walk to the wicket.
Who has Received a Guard of Honour?
A number of players have received a guard of honour during their final international game. Among the most notable of these is Sachin Tendulkar, but there have been many others to have received the accolade.
Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Alastair Cook, Muttiah Muralthiran, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Anil Kumble, Brian Lara and Kumar Sangakkara are among the many who have received a guard of honour as they said goodbye to the game.
In recent seasons, it seems that a Guard of Honour has been used for other reasons. In games involving India and Australia, both David Warner and Cheteshwar Pujara received such recognition on the occasion of their 100th test match. In the case of Pujara, he actually received the Guard of Honour from his own team.
The practise has also filtered down to domestic cricket. In England in 2022, as the veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens was winding down the last days of his contract with Kent, he received a guard of honour.
The recognition seems to have started as a way of marking a top international player’s retirement from the game. However, in modern day cricket, a guard of honour can be used in a number of different ways.
Who was the First Cricketer to Receive a Guard of Honour?
There are different opinions on this subject and nobody is able to give a clear answer as to who was the first cricketer to receive a guard of honour. Some say that it dates all the way back to the time when Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji played test cricket for England in the early 1900s.
He was a great Indian hero who would subsequently have the Ranji Trophy named after him. In more recent years, Sachin Tendulkar was one of the more modern cricketers to receive a guard of honour, and the practise seems to have gathered momentum following his retirement.
A guard of honour is completely voluntary and the opposition team don’t have to carry it out. In doing so, they are showing respect to one of the best cricketers to have ever played the game.
This is a great thing in my opinion and it’s one of those areas of the game that makes cricket so special. The issue of the spirit of cricket has sparked great debate in recent months, but the guard of honour really helps to underline that point.
I have one opinion on the subject and I suspect it may not be a popular one. I’m not really sure that there should be a guard of honour on any occasion other than when a player retires, and is playing his or her final game.
There are those instances where the guard has been put up for a player reaching 100 test caps, but is this really necessary? In all probability, they will already be in line for a special cap which marks their achievement and that should be sufficient.
I’m also not sure about seeing a player’s own teammates lining up in the guard of honour. The practise started as a way for the opposing team to show their appreciation as the star left cricket for the final time.
To summarise, I personally think that a guard of honour is a great innovation, but the players should continue to use it sparingly. If it is used for achievements other than a player’s retirement, it may start to lose its special meaning.
I’d be fascinated to know if anyone else agrees or whether I’m on my own with this opinion. Do feel free to leave some comments and let me know what you think.