It says something about the act of mankading that people who claim bounced-balls as catches, men who ran out a player walking to congratulate his partner on hitting a hundred, batsmen who don’t walk after edging, those who tamper with the ball, some who have taken drugs, and those who mouth ugly personal abuses have united in the moral war against mankading – and yet, it’s not only in rules but also in its latest iteration, it clearly says the onus is on batsman not to leave the crease until the ball is delivered.
Why then this furore? Perhaps, because unlike other dismissals, Mankading pre-empts everything else: a ball hasn’t been bowled, the batsmen haven’t gotten into the act, and some feel “cheated” by the non-consummation of the cricketing act. We look at some of the outrage, from present and the past, to understand the issue.
“Criticism? I am saying it needs to be applauded.” — R Ashwin on Mankading in 201
In February 2016, asked on twitter whether he has ever considered Mankading as a strategy while running in to (bowl), Ashwin replied: “Every single day. I can’t push the front line, why should a batsman gain yards.” A follow-up question came about why he doesn’t give warning to the batsman and Ashwin replied: “batsmen can warn the bowler about hitting him for a 6?” and when another suggested that warning might save him from criticism, Ashwin replied: “criticism? I am saying it needs to be applauded. Popular opinions aren’t always right.”
“So disappointed in @ashwinravi99 as a captain & as a person. All captains sign the #IPL wall & agree to play in the spirit of the game. RA had no intention of delivering the ball – so it should have been called a dead ball. Over to u BCCI – this is not a good look for the #IPL — Shane Warne
In a flurry of hyperventilating tweets that has ranged from questioning Ashwin’s integrity and class to alleging bias on anyone who didn’t conform to his view, Warne probably made the one tweet (above) that best captures the views of people who sit on ‘morally-not-right side’ of the Mankading fence and also question whether Ashwin was right even by the newly amended Law.
That intention to deliver the ball is the most valid criticism thus far. Under the previous rule, bowlers could attempt a run out only before entering their delivery stride. Now, under the new change in 2017, bowlers will be able to run-out up to the instant at which they “would be expected to deliver the ball”.
What the !!! I doubt if this can be given out even by the rule book 🤔
The way I see it he was not stepping out too much!!! Batsman looks “in” when the bowler was in his release stride! Hayden said it right & the game changed there !!! Not fair even by school standards ! #Mankad pic.twitter.com/Aq2VMwVyz1
— T R B Rajaa (@TRBRajaa) March 25, 2019
More evidence has emerged that shows that Buttler was standing outside the crease thrice in the same over – before Ashwin had delivered the ball – before Ashwin decided to mankad off the last ball.
Now, as Warne says, Ashwin might well seem as if he has no intention of delivering the ball – and that’s where even the amended rules leave it vague. Should he not have stopped and waited but done the run out in his delivery stride as Kapil Dev famously did in 1992 to Peter Kirsten? What is the point at which he is expected to deliver the ball? Ashwin can well turn around and say that he was still in control and could have delivered the ball. The vagueness even in the new rule can lead to more subjectivism – It should be made clearer, taking out the intentions of delivering the ball and letting the batsmen know that they can’t just leave the crease until the bowler releases the ball or umpire calls it dead ball. But the outrage would probably have been the same even if he had attempted to get into his bowling action stride as it would still be deemed be unfair by the moral police.
As things stand, the main idea of the rule change was to put the onus of moral and spirit of the game on the batsmen. By saying that “the onus on the non-striker to remain in their ground” and “the message to non-striker is very clear -if you don’t want to risk being run out, stay within your ground until the bowler has released the ball”, MCC, the body that drafted the change, has made it clear that the batsman would be cheating if he steps out before the ball is released and can be run out.
“I am sure based on reactions from the U-19 WC, I as the bowler should allow this to happen. Madness.” — West Indies’ captain Jason Holder
In 2016, when Keemo Paul, now in IPL then with West Indies U-19 team, mankaded Zimbabwe’s last batsman to win the game, similar furore had erupted. Paul had run in with the sole intention to Mankad – he ran right through the crease and took out the bails after the batsman had stepped out of the crease. A while later, West Indies senior team’s captain Jason Holder tweeted the above comment on a photo from an international match that had Kagiso Rabada entering the bowling crease when Moeen Ali, the non-striker, could already be seen well outside the crease.
Never to let an opportunity go begging, Ashwin dived in with a reply: “Unfortunate ways of living with popular opinions.”
“Any inch gained, deliberately or not, in a tight run chase is an inch lost to the fielding side and therefore he is fair game. Mankading cannot happen if a batsman is in his ground … Anything that can be invoked as contrary to the game’s spirit, when a player is abiding by the laws, must be nonsense. Play to the laws, and you will be playing in the right spirit” – Mike Atherton in 2014
When Buttler was mankaded by Sri Lanka’s Sachitra Senanayake in 2014, England cricketers from Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook, and Graeme Swann had criticised the bowler but Atherton chose to differ. His comments point out that it doesn’t matter if the batsman was deliberately trying to gain an advantage; he shouldn’t venture out. Some have commented about giving Butler a warning but how many warnings does a batsman need, especially the one who has been mankaded out before?
As a postscript on the Senanayake issue, Swann had managed to infuse some hilarity even in his criticism. “I think the Mankad is just wrong even though it’s not illegal. Like cuddling your sister while watching a film,” Swann said then.
“Absolutely disgraceful” — Stephen Fleming on Keemo Paul mankading in U-19 tournament
When Keemo Paul mankaded the Zimbabwean, one of the harshest critics was Stephen Fleming, who had called it “absolutely disgraceful”. In 2006, when Muttiah Muralitharan walked down the pitch to congratulate Kumar Sangakkara on reaching a hundred and was run out by Brendon McCullum, Fleming had said, “The game doesn’t stop when a player gets hundred”. Muralitharan wasn’t trying to get an extra run, he had touched the bat at his end and immediately turned just to congratulate but he was, rightly, ran out as according to laws he shouldn’t have wandered. But if ever there was any moral spirit-of-game angle to be considered it was then.
How a revamped rule armed Ashwin to ‘Mankad’ Buttler without completing his action
“I would say to all India ex players/pundits who are supportive of what R Ashwin did if Kohli was batting, would you be so supportive?” — Michael Vaughan
The obvious answer came from a former India player Murali Kartik, who has mankaded batsmen before in his career. Replying to Vaughan, he tweeted: “I support every bowler who does it. Whether that bowler is English or from the Artic.” He then tweeted again: “Rather than telling the batsmen that they are cheating, they call the ones who do it as cheats. Pot calling the kettle back. And then hide behind this façade called spirit of cricket. Laughable.”
“The non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage” — Don Bradman in 1947
The original episode of Mankading occured when Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown in 1947. Despite being Mankaded by Vinoo in a tour game for backing up too far, Brown attempted it again in the second Test and was promptly run out by Mankad who found support from Bradman. “If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage … there was absolutely no feeling in the matter as far as we were concerned, for we considered it quite a legitimate part of the game.”
As things would play out, Brown would once again be run out by Mankad later in the series, this time in a conventional manner, when he was on 99. The next time Brown fished out his bat from the bag, he saw his teammate Lindsay Hassett’s message on it: “Please keep me in the crease until the ball is bowled.”
“You show no confidence in yourself or your bowlers to get the job done so you resort to that? #greatcaptaincy” — Joffra Archer
Soon after that tweet from Archer, Tino Best, former West Indies fast bowler, told him to delete. “Don’t get caught up in that boss the rules are the rules and until they are changed guys will exploit them, do your job and be cool don’t get caught up with tweeting boss, next year u could be playing for Punjab don’t get in anyone’s bad book for nothing chief”.
Archer deleted his tweet immediately.
MCC: dismissal was legal
In relation to the incident, the wording of the Law needs to be examined to understand it further. This Law is essential. Without it, non-strikers could back up at liberty, several yards down the pitch and a Law is needed to prevent such action.
Law 41.16 Non-striker leaving his/her ground early
* If the non-striker is out of his/her ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him/her out. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one in the over.
If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible.
No warning needed
To clarify, it has never been in the Laws that a warning should be given to the non-striker and nor is it against the Spirit of Cricket to run out a non-striker who is seeking to gain an advantage by leaving his/her ground early.
Furthermore, with batsmen now being deemed in or out by millimetres by TV replays on quick singles, it is right that they should remain in their ground at the non-striker’s end until it is fair for them to leave.
Release of the ball issue
Yesterday’s incident could have been ruled out or not out, depending on how “the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball” is interpreted. Some feel that Ashwin delayed his action to allow Buttler the chance to leave his ground and that Buttler was in his ground when he expected the ball to be released. If it was a deliberate delay, that would be unfair and against the Spirit of Cricket. Ashwin claims this not to be the case.
TV umpire’s angle
The TV umpire had to make a decision and, under the Law (and indeed ICC’s interpretation of them, which clarifies the expected moment of release as when the arm reaches its highest point), it was understandable how he opted to give Buttler out.
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