There is a reason why the game struggles for credibility for its vanguard. When the custodians of the game are at crossroads, changing stance depending on which side of the fence the popular, even if it is erroneous, consensus falls on, it is no wonder that cricket is sometimes allowed to run riot as it has in the case of Ashwin and the mankading of Jos Buttler.
The cricket world loves the batsman. According to popular consensus, he provides all the entertainment. By that reckoning anything the batsman does is forgiven, including when he leaves the bat out too far, misses the ball entirely and lives to face the next one. However, the bowler is the worker, the one who toils for that one perfect (and sometimes not so perfect) delivery that fetches his team the crucial wicket. Thereafter, when a team collapses because of a bowler’s prowess, the match is one sided. When the batsmen are blazing, cricket is thriving.
It is these kinds of perceptions that have created this kind of insinuation on bowlers and it is sad to see that the status quo is being perpetuated by some of the greats of the game, particularly those that are now in a position to have a voice and speak their mind for millions to hear. What is even more aghast to hear them speak is that while they condemn Ravichandran Ashwin, their own words are in contrivance of what would constitute the spirit of the game.
By the general reckoning of the spirit of the game, the on field umpire has the final say. If, in his opinion, he deemed Ashwin’s action legal and Jos Buttler rightfully mankaded, then perhaps even with the acceptable margin of error, the legends of the game should accept the umpire’s verdict and move on. For them to not only entirely ignore the man who took the decision but also, settle scores with fellow commentators and others who disagree with their own opinion, which one dare say, could have been entirely different had it been done by one from their own quarters – something they are accusing those that have a different opinion of doing, is, also, against the spirit of the game.
The disbelief over the overturn of the MCC is enormous even though it is not surprising. There is a reason why the Marylebone Cricket Club and (MCC) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) have not had quite the kind of respect they would have liked to have command. Some of the recommendations made by the supposed custodians of the game have seemed out of touch with the reality of the sport and sometimes claptrap in terms of reviving particularly the interests of Test cricket.
Instead of suggesting that the play should have ended with the umpire’s final call, the MCC first supported the mankading rule in Ashwin’s favour only to lose their own credibility by suggesting they had to review the footage again before deciding Ashwin’s action might not have been entirely legible. What they have inadvertently done is undermine once more not only the rule but also, the role of the one man who has a say in how the game goes – the umpire.