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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Mankading and the spirit of cricket

A bit of controversy was raised in the final one day international between England and Sri Lanka on Tuesday night, when the English batsman Jos Buttler was run out by “Mankading”.

“Mankading” is the act of a bowler running out the non-striker for backing up too far.  It is named after the Indian test cricketer Vinoo Mankad, who performed the action twice against Bill Brown during India’s 1947 tour of Australia.  In more recent times the laws have been amended so that one can only be “mankaded” before the bowler enters his delivery stride. I have a short piece on the subject in my forthcoming book

True to the spirit of one too many sporting crowds in recent years, some spectators droned on for a while after Buttler’s dismissal, chanting “cheat” at the Sri Lankans.

I can return a short verdict on the controversy and attendant chanting: utter nonsense.  Frequently one day matches are decided by only one or two run margins, or with less than an over to spare. Often run-out appeals are decided only after repeated action replays from different angles using high definition cameras.  Therefore, even one or two inches’ distance can make all the difference.  Why, therefore, should the bowler indulge the batsman by allowing him to start backing up before the ball has even been bowled?

The answer is that a convention has developed by which the bowler is supposed to warn the batsman first, as indeed Mankad himself did all those years ago.  But the Sri Lankans did warn Buttler – twice – and he chose to ignore the warning.  It was therefore his fault, and his problem, and if anyone was morally transgressing it was Buttler for trying to gain an unfair advantage by way of short singles.

Mahela Jayawardene got it in one:

"If the other sides are not going by the rules, then they're not playing by the spirit, so what can you do?”


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