There can be no longer be any outcry against the perfectly legal Mankad
It’s safe to say that the cricket world is at loggerheads about how India’s women’s team beat England in a recent ODI at Lord’s in September. At the heart of the controversy was Deepti Sharma ‘Mankading’ Charlie Dean during a time when England looked to be on the way to victory.
Despite the controversy, the umpires had no choice but to give Dean out which meant that India completed a series victory over England.
Before we go any further though and for those in the dark about what a Mankad is, let’s quickly recap where this supposed controversy first originated to find some much-needed clarity.
You have to go back to India’s tour of Australia during the 1947/48 season to find the first instance of running out the non-striker. The man in question was left-arm spinner Vinoo Mankad who changed the history of cricket after taking exception to Australian batsman Bill Brown walking down the wicket before releasing the ball.
According to Mankad, he had repeatedly warned Brown not to leave his crease before he had let the ball go but the Australian apparently dismissed his warnings and carried on venturing down the pitch. Therefore, a disgruntled Mankad took matters into his own hands by pausing in his delivery stride so that he could run Brown out, who, unsurprisingly, was well out of his crease at the time. The rest, as they say, is history, yet 75 years later, this is a topic that the world still can’t seem to come to an agreement on.
In fact, as Mint recaps here, when Ravichandran Ashwin threatened to do it during a loss against South Africa in the ongoing T20 World Cup, there was immediate condemnation from the commentary box even though David Miller had begun gaining ground before the spinner had bowled.
During the heat of the moment when criticism is strong, it’s vitally important to keep in mind that there is a huge amount on the line for both nations as they compete to win the World Cup. In fact, India are, according to Betway, the outright favourite to win the competition at odds of 5/2 as of the 3rd of November, whilst South Africa are currently 15/4. With this in mind and with little separating the two sides, it’s easier to understand why small margins cannot be allowed to be taken or indeed given even if the majority of the cricketing world strongly legislates against mankading.
It’s just not cricket
In essence, the main argument against Mankading is that it is not in the spirit of the game. Chiefly, this comes down to its detractors who, as can be seen in this extraordinary article on Fox, passionately insist that it takes less skill and more underhandedness to pull it off. This is where the argument enters a grey area, as a sense of self-righteousness comes up against the cold hard laws of the game.
The ultimate problem with taking exception to Mankading
As you can imagine, the loud voices against Mankading tend to take to social media in a bid to whip up a frenzy of disapproval. Stuart Broad was one such man who did just that but when you take such an indignant stance on matters, you have to be certain that you too have always played cricket in the spirit of the game.
For instance, with help from the Guardian, we can look back on the time when Broad refused to walk despite, in effect, edging the ball to slip in 2013 when England took on Australia in an Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. It was clear as day that Broad was out but he did not walk and instead let the umpire make the decision. That was Broad’s prerogative and he said as much afterwards when quizzed by the world’s media: “I don’t wish I’d walked, if I had we’d have lost the game. I’ve never been a walker, why would I walk if the umpire hasn’t given me out?”
Again, Broad was well within his rights to make the most of the laws of the game against the Aussies, but then you would have to say that so were Mankad and Sharma, who were also using the rules, however unsavoury one might imagine it to be, to their advantage.
If the custodians of cricket have put it in the law book, then there cannot be any backlash when someone chooses to play by said rules.
Perhaps in the future, the spotlight should be shone on batters who try to illegally benefit from walking down the pitch to steal a single. You only need to cast your mind back to how many times games have gone down to the final ball of a match to understand how backing up can in actual fact, hand teams an unfair advantage.