Mankading row: Is Ashwin wrong? MCC Laws vs Spirit of Cricket & past instances

Jos Buttler
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Jos Buttler run out by Ashwin (backing up)
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The controversy erupted in the IPL when KXIP's Ravichandran Ashwin ran out RR's Jos Buttler at the non-striker's end, referred to as Mankading, as he was allegedly backing too far out of the crease.


There are many notable voices, not least Shane Warne, who believe that Ashwin's actions were not within the spirit of the game. At the same time, the trolls have got sufficient fodder to last a week.

There's the spirit of the game and then there's the law. What takes precedence over what is at the core of this debate.

What is Mankading?

The big question then is what is Mankading and where did the phrase come from? In simple terms, Mankading is the act of running a batsman out before a ball has been bowled. The first recorded instance of the controversial dismissal in international cricket occured in 1947 when Indian bowler Vinoo Mankad ran Bill Brown out during India’s tour of Australia.

Mankad had warned Brown several times before he ultimately dismissed him. Since then, this frowned upon dismissal took the unofficial name Mankading. Mankad, in this case, was in the right as he had no other option to put an end to the unfair advantage that Brown was taking but to run him out.

Hence, many hold the opinion that rather than bringing disgrace to the bowler's name, Mankading should take Brown's name as it was he who was at fault.

Ashwin-Buttler incident

The IPL incident also has a backstory to it. It was not for the first time that either of Buttler or Ashwin were involved in Mankading. In the 2012 Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia, Ashwin had run out Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne after he was backing up too far. However, Sachin Tendulkar and stand-in captain Virender Sehwag had then withdrew the appeal.

Similarly, in 2014, Sri Lankan bowler Sachithra Senanayake had 'mankaded' Buttler after warning him in the previous over.

What Ashwin did was within the laws of the game. Here is what the MCC Law clearly states:

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."

On the contrary, in an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Fraser Stewart, the MCC's cricket academy manager, explains the interpretation of the incident by the lawmakers as follows:

"We now have had a chance to review it in more detail and we think that Buttler was in his ground as Ashwin got into a position when the non-striker could reasonably have expected the ball to have been delivered. Ashwin seemed to pause to allow Buttler to go out of his ground and then obviously he put the wicket down; Buttler did not really make much of an effort to get back into his ground. It is one where we just felt the pause was just too long and therefore not within the spirit of cricket."

What does 'Spirit of Cricket' mean?

Read the last line with added emphasis on spirit of cricket. What is spirit of cricket, where did it come from and what does it exactly mean?

In the late 1990s, two MCC members Ted Dexter and Lord (Colin) Cowdrey, both of whom were former England captains, sought to enshrine the 'Spirit of Cricket' in the game's Laws to remind players of their responsibility for ensuring that cricket is always played in a truly sportsmanlike manner, which was later included in the current Code of Laws.

"Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this Spirit causes injury to the game itself".

Bottomline

All said and done, there are lots of grey areas in the MCC Law. Case in point, the ball tampering row that saw ICC ban the then Australian captain Steven Smith for just one Test and give three demerit points to Cameron Bancroft, ultimately saw as long as one-year bans handed out to the guilty. That there was such disparity in the MCC Law and the actual punishment meted out itself shows that more clarity is warranted.

The bottomline is that why should a batsman get even an extra inch which might turn out to be the difference between a run and a run-out at the other end. If the bowler oversteps even by a whisker, umpites don't think twice before ruling it a no-ball, then why the stigma attached to Mankading?

Here are some past occasions of 'Mankading' in international cricket:

Instances of ‘Mankading’ in Tests

Bill Brown by Vinoo Mankad, Australia versus India, Sydney, 1947–1948

Ian Redpath by Charlie Griffith, Australia versus West Indies, Adelaide, 1968–1969

Derek Randall by Ewen Chatfield, England versus New Zealand, Christchurch, 1977–1978

Sikander Bakht by Alan Hurst, Pakistan versus Australia, Perth, 1978–1979

Instances of ‘Mankading’ in ODIs

Brian Luckhurst by Greg Chappell, England versus Australia, Melbourne, 1974–1975

Grant Flower by Dipak Patel, Zimbabwe versus New Zealand, Harare, 1992–1993

Peter Kirsten by Kapil Dev, South Africa versus India, Port Elizabeth, 1992–1993

Jos Buttler by Sachithra Senanayake, England versus Sri Lanka, Birmingham, 2014

Instances of ‘Mankading’ in T20Is

Mark Chapman by Aamir Kaleem, Hong Kong versus Oman, 2016 Asia Cup Qualifier, 2016

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