So yet again “Mankading’’ becomes the hot topic for discussion. Ravi Ashwin’s running out of Jos Butler on Monday has set off the predictable reactions on social media, on television and on websites.
Right from a very early age when I became interested in cricket and learnt of the incident involving Vinoo Mankad and Bill Brown during the Indian tour of Australia in 1947-48 – bowler Mankad ran out Brown at the non-striker’s end thus leading to the term “Mankading’’ which has stood the test of time since then – I always wondered why there should be such a big hullabaloo about the dismissal. I have always maintained that the bowler is right and the batsman wrong. It is as simple as that. Somewhere along the line however the phrase “spirit of the game’’ crept in and people tended to look down at the bowler dismissing the batsman thus and taking the high moral ground that he should be warned first.
I have always been clear in my mind about the various aspects concerning this kind of dismissal. First, does the umpire warn the bowler that he is sending down a no ball and tell him that hereafter he will be pulled up for stepping over the crease? Second the batsman is gaining an unfair advantage by stepping out of the crease before the bowler has delivered and in a close run out decision that extra yard or so could make a difference.
In any case to quell charges of the bowler acting in an unsportsmanlike manner – a rather unfair charge – we now have a law that states “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.’’ With the rule in place the onus is clearly on the batsman to be more careful to stay within the crease till the ball is delivered.
I can do no better than to quote Sir Donald Bradman and he wrote this in his autobiography “Farewell to cricket’’ released in 1950. Recalling the incident which happened in the second Test at Sydney Bradman writes: “Brown was run out by Mankad who in the act of delivering the ball held on to it and whipped the bails off with Brown out of his crease. In some quarters Mankad’s sportsmanship was questioned. For the life of me I cannot understand why. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the non-striker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage. On numerous occasions he may avoid being run out at the opposite end by gaining this false start.’’
After hearing from the greatest cricketer of all time little more need be said.