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Mankading: An unending debate

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Mankading_R_Ashwin_Jos_Buttler_IPL_T20_CricketThe match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals on 25th March gave rise to the biggest controversy of this year’s Indian Premier League (so far). Punjab, batting first, set a target of 184 for the Royals. While chasing, Rajasthan looked settled, thanks to some great hitting from Jos Buttler (69). When he was all set to take the match away from KXIP, Ravichandran Ashwin ‘Mankaded’ him.

Mankading is a method of run-out where a bowler dismisses the batsman at the non-striker’s end before releasing the delivery if the batter is outside the crease. In case of the IPL match, it was the 13th over of Rajasthan’s innings and Ashwin’s last over. He took the position to deliver the ball, held onto it for a while and removed the bails seeing Buttler visibly out of the crease. Third umpire’s decision was asked for and expectedly Buttler was given out.

Mankading - From Domestic to International

This is a fairly common practice, especially in first-class cricket, with a long history. Veteran cricket historian Abhishek Mukherjee wrote of one particular incident involving Conrad Wallroth and George Harris in 1870. A book on the history of Harrow explains a dismissal in a first-class match played at Lord’s between Harrow School and Eton College: “Harris … noticed that Wallroth, who was well set, was backing up too eagerly. He put himself on to bowl (quite rightly, to my mind), and, pretending to bowl, caught Wallroth tripping, and he paid the penalty.” This wasn’t the first incident or account of such a run-out, though it was a detailed one.

The term ‘‘Mankading’’ was coined much later during India’s tour of Australia in 1947. Bill Brown was dismissed by Vinoo Mankad, the legendary all-rounder from India. Mankad dismissed him twice, removing the bails as the non-striker was outside the crease. Don Bradman, the Australian captain, was fine with it but Aussie media criticized the act.

This was the first time when ‘Mankading’ was practiced in international cricket. Since then there have been a number of instances of this not so sporting act. Moreover, some legendary names have been involved in ‘Mankading’. In 1969 the Aussie batter Ian Redpath was Mankaded by West Indian pacer Charlie Griffith. Then it was practiced quite frequently during the ’80s. In 1975 Brian Luckhurst was Mankaded by Greg Chappell followed by Alan Hurst ‘Mankading’ Sikander Bakht in 1979 and Ewen Chatfield ‘Mankading’ Derek Randall. Then 1992 saw back to back ‘Mankading’ incidents; one of them had the second Indian Kapil Dev involved into it. During the second ODI of India’s first tour to South Africa, Peter Kirsten went out of the crease. Kapil Dev instantly dislodged the bails and appealed. Kirsten was sent back to the pavilion. Kapil apparently warned Kirsten twice before committing ‘Mankading’.

The Curious Case of Buttler & Ashwin

The latest incident of Mankading in international cricket had interestingly one thing in common with the above mentioned IPL match. Jos Buttler. Buttler was Mankaded by Sachithra Senanayake in 2014. During the final ODI in Birmingham, the Sri Lankan bowler made the best use of the opportunity as Buttler was out of his position.

As far as Ravichandran Ashwin is concerned, most of the cricket fans didn’t expect a gentleman like him to opt for this act. But interestingly just like his counter-part the Indian spinner also was involved in a ‘Mankading’ incident earlier. Ashwin tried the same act of dismissal during the 2012 Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia. He ran Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Thirimanne out in the same way. This time the batsman got a warning from Ashwin though. Later the Indian captain Virender Sehwag withdrew the appeal and the umpires called it a dead ball.

So for Ravichandran Ashwin, it was not an unsporting act and he knew what he was doing. According to him, he was following the law and hence he tried the same method twice in his career. Ashwin in the post-match conference clearly said that it was instinctive and he didn’t break any rule or law. But for Buttler, this wasn’t the case. Earlier in 2014 Buttler opined, “It is obviously batsman error. 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.” But the IPL match witnessed furious and upset Buttler exchanging words with Ashwin.

The Law

Don Bradman defended Vinoo Mankad in 1947 for this act and like Ashwin, referred to the law. He was quoted by media saying, “This had happened in the Indian match against Queensland, and immediately in some quarters Mankad's sportsmanship was questioned. For the life of me, I cannot understand why. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the non-striker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered.”

Now let’s talk about The law.

According to the laws of cricket ‘Mankading’ is not at all illegal. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) takes care of the law of cricket. Earlier it was explained in the law 42.15 that allowed the bowler to run out the non-striker before entering the delivery stride.

"The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of 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."

Then the law was tweaked in April 2017. Now the law 41.16 says, "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."

This was finalized after a number of alterations. It further explained and emphasizes the fact that this kind of situation occurs mainly due to the batter. So this is mostly the fault of the non-striker if he/she doesn’t stay within the ground.

The Conflict

If someone is at fault, according to the law, it is the batsman at the non-striking end. But the fans and experts are divided into two camps. One approves because of the law and another cares about the spirit of cricket.

Cricket is a gentleman’s game and cricketers are expected to behave in a ‘proper’ way. They cannot do anything wrong or cannot violent the spirit of the game. Some followers with this view say that the batsman should be warned once before dislodging the bails. But the law doesn’t suggest the same. Interestingly Vinoo Mankad warned Bill Brown for the first time. When the batsman repeated the mistake, Mankad dismissed him. In the next match, he didn’t care to warn anymore. So what was the point of the warning? Jason Buttler was a ‘victim’ of Mankading earlier. Did he care to rectify himself? Cricket is mainly batting dominated game and has been for years. The benefit of doubt is also given to the batsman and not the bowler. Now the question is why? At least in this scenario, when a batsman is out of his/her crease before the release of the ball, it is clear that he/she wants to take advantage. Then technically and as the law suggests, the batsman is at the fault.

This kind of act in fact often breaks the concentration of the bowler. During the IPL match, Ashwin was heard saying to Buttler, “you are not in the crease and you have been upsetting my rhythm”. There are instances where bowlers have warned batsmen. But this isn’t mandatory. This is a choice. But what if the bowler attempts to deliver the ball, takes a pause and waits for the batter to go out of the crease? Just like the way Ashwin did? This has no definite answer. But once again, the timing of releasing the ball is important here. So as far as the law is concerned, Mankading is completely fair.

Interestingly there is no punishment for the batsmen for going out of the crease. He/she will just be dismissed and that’s it. But bowlers can be dragged into ‘ethical’ controversy even after following the law just because ‘unfair’ attempts like Mankading cannot be expected from the ‘gentlemen’. Fans are disappointed with Ashwin as they didn’t expect ‘this’ from him. But what mistake did he exactly commit? Nobody knows!



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