A FAN’S OPINION
It all began in the second test during India’s tour of Australia in 1947/48 when Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown who was backing away even after a prior warning. This form of dismissal is termed as mankading from there on even and a warning before mankading is viewed to be within the spirit of the game.
A reference to the ICC playing handbook 2019-20 states in Para 41.16 that “Non-striker leaving his ground early If the non-striker is out of his 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 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.
With the ongoing 13th season of the IPL underway at the UAE amidst the COVID-19 scare in India, Mankading has transformed into the most debatable cricketing topic in recent times. Ravichandran Ashwin has already sent a message to the bat-wielding swordsman by cautioning Aaron Finch in the Match against RCB. Season 12 of the IPL, witnessed Ravichandran Ashwin dismissing Jos Butler by mankading him in the 13th over of the Match when Jos Butler was cruising with a strike rate of over 160, batting at 69 of 43. On that day Jos butler was cruising towards a ton but was dismissed in the most bizarre way one could be dismissed in cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin faced a lot of backlash from the stakeholders in the cricketing world for the controversial act. Ravichandran Ashwin had previously attempted the same act in an ODI match versus Sri Lanka. The opinion of the cricketing fraternity is largely divided on this matter. Most considered it to be immoral while some considered it to be completely justified and within the boundaries of the game. Such incidents leave fans with a lot to ponder upon. Being a keen follower of the game for over a decade, I could not imagine such an incident taking place in the biggest T20 league in the world. Moreover, an accomplished bowler of such stature instigating such an act was inconceivable. However, in hindsight, I have a different opinion about it.
There is a rule for such an occurrence in the rule book, and yet such an incidence is frowned upon and is considered to be against the essence of the game. This stream of thought can be accredited to the action being regarded as against the run of play. The act of a legal delivery being bowled begins with a bowler making his mark, running to the crease to release the bowl, and then releasing the ball to make it a delivery while staying within the crease. All this while the non-striker begins his run-up in anticipation that the bowler would bowl a fair ball and he would get a head start. Anticipating a Mankad or looking back to see whether the bowler has released the ball or not isn’t the instinct of any batsman. A fair warning before mankading is considered to be an unsaid custom from the era of Vinoo Mankad. So the spirit of cricket is supposedly endangered each time such an incident takes place.
Modern cricket has often been described as a batsman’s game, and bowlers have very little scope for error. Thicker bats, shorter boundaries, power plays, fielding restrictions, free hits on no balls are few rules which have helped the batsman’s cause in the game. However, mankading looks ugly from a fan’s point of view. A keen follower of the game always looks forward to a contest between the bat and the ball. A bowler should never have to resort to such means to dismiss a batsman. Having said that if a rule exists for the batsman backing away, I find it rather strange that a bowler gets morally battered for trying to use a rule within the rule book to his advantage. If it is instinctive for a batsman to back away before delivery is bowled, it well within a bowler’s ethic to Mankad a batsman baking away.
Many of the cricketers have now realized that it is unfair on the fielding team if a batsman is backing away. A batsman backing away cannot be termed as trickery. Similarly, a bowler mankading cannot be branded malicious because the spirit of cricket is at stake. The governing bodies regulating the rules of the game have a task cut out regarding the literature for mankading for want of clarity. The spirit of cricket should never come into question when the rules of the game allow such a dismissal. Such incidents only have a negative influence on the game; a game equivalent to a staple diet in the Indian subcontinent.
By Amit Nandi, Sudip Sadhukhan.