By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published February 7, 2016
“Absolutely disgraceful behaviour!”, “Unbelievable!”, “West Indies should be embarrassed!”, were some of the comments proffered by former players, New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming, Australia’s Darren Lehmann and England’s Eoin Morgan, after the Under-19 World Cup Match between West Indies and Zimbabwe came to an unusual halt.
Last week Tuesday, with Zimbabwe three runs away from a victory over the West Indies, Keemo Paul ran out Zimbabwean batsman and non-striker Richard Ngarava to hand West Indies the win and a quarterfinal berth. Many individuals have chastised Paul for not warning Ngarava before attempting the run out. References have been made to the spirit of the gentleman’s game and its unwritten rules, and the act has been described by several individuals as unsportsmanlike.
The game of cricket has several laws and they are always encouraged to be enforced “within the spirit and traditions of the game”. However, if a batsman is caught out of his crease, he has no one to blame but himself as former England cricketer David Lloyd alluded to after Jos Buttler was run out ‘mankading’ by Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake in 2014, the last instance of this in international play.
The term mankad or mankading, which is associated with running out the non-striker by the bowler before entering his delivery stride, was made popular by Vinoo Mankad who ran out Bill Brown on Saturday, December 13, 1947, in a Test match between Australia and India. In previous instances on that tour, during tour matches, Mankad had run out Brown in a similar manner on one instance and warned him without running him out on another. A similar reference is made to an incident between West Indies and Pakistan in the 1987 World Cup where Courtney Walsh warned Saleem Jaffar without running him out, with Pakistan needing two runs to win with one ball remaining in the match. Pakistan eventually got the two runs off the last ball and Walsh was heralded for his gentlemanlike behaviour.
Whether the bowler warns the non-striker batsman is up to the bowler and is not a requirement for mankading – neither in nor out of the spirit of the game or in the laws of cricket. What is required is for the non-striker batsman to remain in his crease until the bowler has completed his delivery stride.
Law 42 in cricket which deals with fair and unfair play clearly states in section 15, “The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of 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.”
The descriptions of unsportsmanlike, disgraceful and embarrassing attributed to under-19 West Indies team, and bowler Paul by former players, pundits and fans are the true disgraces. Sir Donald Bradman, the most recognizable figure in cricket history, was the captain of the Australian team when Indian player Mankad ran out Brown via mankading. Interestingly, it was Bradman who walked to the crease after the dismissal and it was he who came to the defense of Mankad’s actions.
In his autobiography, ‘Farewell to Cricket’, Bradman uttered, “For the life of me, I can’t understand why (the press) questioned his sportsmanship. 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.”
Former England cricketer, Mike Atherton indicated similar sentiments after the Jos Buttler mankading incident in 2014. He stated then unequivocally, “The way I grew up playing you are told to stay in your ground until the bowler releases the ball. You‘ve got to keep your bat in the crease. You see a lot of batsmen wonder aimlessly out of their ground. You don’t have to warn. Breaking the spirit of the game is actually being out of your ground and stealing that extra yard. He was out of his ground. It was a good lesson. Keep your bat in the crease!”
Therefore, criticism aimed at the bowler, under-19 cricketer Paul and his team is what is unfair, ludicrous and scandalous. The proper aim should be placed towards the batsman Ngarava and others like him, who attempt through skulduggery or chicanery to poach a run by getting an unfair flying start. When they are found wanting, they are solely to be blamed.
In most sports, participants are frowned upon or penalised for attempting to crib, steal or attain an unfair advantage on their opponents. In Track and Field, a runner is expelled from the race if he false starts. In Tennis, a fault is called if a player’s foot is on the line while they serve. Similarly, in cricket, a bowler is called for a no-ball if his front foot oversteps the crease during his delivery stride.
No differently, a batsman can be run out if his bat is on the line or yards out of the crease. Wicketkeepers and other fielders are heralded if they dismiss a batsman in this fashion whether stumped or run out. No warning needs to be given in those instances. The context or stage of the match is inconsequential. Likewise, the bowler who catches the batsman out of his crease via mankading should be praised for his wit and intelligence without questioning whether he warned the player or consideration for the context or stage of the match.
What should be chastised and described as disgraceful, unbelievable and embarrassing, is the batsman’s lapse which marks poor intelligence on his part at that moment. Lapses of that nature should not occur and cricket coaches should impress upon their batsmen the horrendous consequences if they do. If the batsmen fail to adhere to these teachings, it simply shows they have not learned the simple lessons of life and cricket.
In 1947, Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown before a packed house of 20, 027 spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground with only three balls remaining to complete the day’s play. The Australian spectators at the ground applauded Vinoo Mankad for his attentiveness in enacting the dismissal. A similar action is warranted for Keemo Paul, not pathetically hypocritical and convenient criticism.
Until next time…
© Zaheer Clarke