The ‘Spirit of Cricket’ debate has been sparked again and this time, it has been started by an incident of Mankading. Bowling the second last ball of the 13th over of Wednesday’s IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, Ravichandran Ashwin ran out Jos Buttler by clipping the bails at the non-striker’s end before he had bowled his delivery.
Ashwin, who is captain of Kings XI Punjab appealed to the umpire after clipping the bails while bowling the penultimate ball of the 13th over. The decision went to the third umpire who deemed that Buttler was out. The Englishman had an animated discussion with Ashwin while the decision was taken upstairs by the umpire was visibly livid while walking back to the dugout.
What is ‘Mankading’?
The term ‘Mankading’ is derived from the name of legendary former Indian cricketer Vinoo Mankad. In 1947, during a series in Australia, Mankad had dismissed opposition batsman Bill Brown twice by clipping the bails at the non-striker’s end before bowling the ball. While Mankad found himself at the end of significant criticism for it he received support from an unlikely source – batting great and then Australian captain Sir Don Bradman.
In his autobiography, Bradman wrote: “For the life of me, I can’t understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the non-striker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. 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.”
What are the laws around ‘Mankading’?
In 2017, the Marylebone Cricket Club had introduced a host of changes to the Laws of Cricket but upheld the bowler’s right to appeal in a situation such as this one. In fact, a subtle change to the law gave the bowlers the licence to run-out the non-striker up to the instant at which they “would be expected to deliver the ball”.
I am hearing a lot of talk about spirit of the game. This law specifically came in because, taking recourse to this very “spirit of the game” batsmen were running 6 inches less to complete a run.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 25, 2019
Have Ashwin or Buttler been involved in a similar situation before?
In an ODI between India and Sri Lanka in 2012, Ashwin had appealed for a run out against Lahiru Thirimanne in similar fashion. The umpires then asked India if they wanted to reconsider the decision. Virender Sehwag, who was captaining the side in the absence of MS Dhoni, and Sachin Tendulkar then spoke with the umpire and the decision was officially withdrawn.
In 2014 at Birmingham, Jos Buttler had been Mankaded by Sachithra Senanayake during an ODI against Sri Lanka. The Edgbaston crowd booed the Sri Lankan off-spinner, while then England captain Alastair Cook suggested that a “line had been crossed”. Interestingly, Buttler himself defended the bowler. “It is obviously the batsman’s error,” he had said, adding: “If you walk out of your ground and someone wants to do it, it is in the laws of the game. It is all part of the game.”