For the better part of the last twenty four hours, the cricket world has been abuzz about the Kings XI Punjab captain’s decision to run out the batsman from the Rajasthan Royals through a tricky dismissal known as ‘Mankad’ing. However, one wonders how it is easy to call it a violation of the spirit of the game issue when the rules of the game are quite explicit.

Quite a stir has been created over an issue that has been quite clear as per the laws of the game. Jos Buttler, himself a repeat offender of walking out of his crease at the non-striker’s end, is once again making a hue and cry about an issue that he himself stated he was in the wrong in the past. He stated it himself in 2016, two years after he claimed indignation at being mankaded by Sri Lanka, calling it ‘a batsman error’. Along with the England wicketkeeper-batsman, much of the cricket world that is up in arms appears to have forgotten that there is a place for the spirit of the game and also, one for adhering to the laws.

Ravichandran Ashwin was well within his right to spot the non-striker out of his crease in the course of his run up and dismiss him in the fashion he did. Those that claim that Ashwin had no intention of bowling the ball – when a bowler will stop in his tracks in order to effect the removing of the bails, must, also, look at the batsman’s behavior before making such a judgement. For the Kings XI Punjab bowler and captain to be vilified in such fashion seems out of place when the cricket law clears states that the bowler is well within his rights.

Furthermore, nowhere does it state that the bowler must warn the batsman although there have been past instances. For Jos Buttler and for those who are calling foul from a high moral ground must remember they are living in glass houses themselves and that Buttler, from his own experience, should have known better, not only knowing the laws as a batsman but also, as a wicketkeeper and furthermore, of having faced such an ignominy himself in the recent past.

It would have been equally telling on Ashwin had he merely warned the batsman and let him off while his team was struggling to pull back the match. It is quite plausible that the same people making the argument for Buttler today would have criticized Ashwin for being ‘soft’ when the game demanded action to make something happen for the team.

Just because a batsman is in good form does not mean that the bowler has unfairly deprived the cricket world of fireworks. Ashwin did what any bowler should do in a world skewed in favour of the batsman. After all, is it not school boy training for a batsman to always remember to have his bat behind the crease? The law book says so. Where is the spirit of the game if not in upholding the law?

If this brings shame upon Ashwin, perhaps those that are deeming it so should look at their own actions as well as the ones perpetrated that have far demonized the game and the men who make up the sport, particularly when it comes from the Rajasthan Royals whose players were caught spot fixing, who are batting for Steve Smith who failed to uphold the high echelons of captaincy despite being one of the world’s best batsmen at the time of sandpaper-gate and have Shane Warne who did not think about standards when dealing with bookies or the many shenanigans that eventually cost him the Australian captaincy.

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