Sport Cricket Spare the sanctimony, bring on the Mankad
Updated:

Spare the sanctimony, bring on the Mankad

How it that? It's a Mankad.
Getty
Share
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

OK, it’s football season Downunder and you’re probably not paying too much attention to the England-Sri Lanka one-day series in the Old Dart.

To fill you in: England is frothing mad over a ‘Mankad’ executed by Sri Lankan bowler Sachithra Senanayake to remove England batsman Jos Buttler. It was, apparently, only the eighth Mankad in more than a century of international cricket.

England captain Alastair Cook said it was a “pretty poor act” and that the Sri Lankans had “crossed a line”.

He said he had never seen it before, and, like a cricketing ascetic, hoped he would never be tempted.

“I was pretty disappointed with it to be honest,” he said. “You don’t know what you’d do if you were put in that situation – the heat of the moment – until you are. I’d hope I wouldn’t do it.”

For the uninitiated, a Mankad is when the bowler runs out the batsman at the non-striker’s end when he is backing up prematurely. 

It is named after India’s Vinoo Mankad after he ran out Australia’s Bill Brown in just such a manner in 1947-48.

Tension mounts: Umpire Michael Gough speaks with Jos Buttler and Angelo Mathews. Photo: Getty
Tension mounts: Umpire Michael Gough speaks with Jos Buttler and Angelo Mathews. Photo: Getty

In short, the Mankad is considered ‘not cricket’.

In fact, the Mankad is an entirely legitimate form of dismissal that should be embraced as a potentially exciting part of the game.

The Mankad is an elegant, free market mechanism for ensuring the batsman does not crib an unfair advantage.

A cricket pitch is 22 yards long. The popping creases mean that the batsman has a journey of about 19-and-a-half metres to complete a run.

The Mankad is an elegant, free market mechanism for ensuring the batsman does not crib an unfair advantage.

This is not some abstract advantage. It is a material gain in a game where a millimetre can mean the difference between glory and ignominy.

If anyone, it is the batsman who backs up prematurely who is ‘cheating’, not the fielding team policing such a practice.

It is not like appealing for handling the ball, or even the dodgy run out of Dean Jones in Guyana, when he started walking to the pavilion, unaware that he had been bowled by a no ball. In neither of those instances is the batsman gaining an advantage.

Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews was given an opportunity by the umpire to retract the appeal, but did not. He said that Buttler had been repeatedly warned.

Added veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardene: “We gave him a fair chance. We told the umpires that they’re taking too much of a lead. He was told not to take a start and then warned again, so it’s fair enough.

“At Lord’s, they took 22 twos in the last 12 overs. Ravi (Bopara) and he ran riot, and most of the time they were taking starts.

“We’ve always tried to play in the right spirit, but if the other teams are not going by the right spirit … we have to take the law into our own hands.”

Opposition to the Mankad is a curious relic of a dubious cricketing morality, in which batsmen are treated like lords of the manner, bowlers humble yeomen.

The response of Australian captain Michael Clarke is an indication that sentiment might be shifting. In short, Clarke would not guarantee that no player under his charge would employ the tactic. See his reaction in the video below.

Opposition to the Mankad is a curious relic of a dubious cricketing morality, in which batsmen are treated like lords of the manner, bowlers humble yeomen.

Dubious morality aside, the knock on the Mankad will be that the game can hardly afford more interruptions, which will occur every time a bowler stops in his delivery stride to check on the non-striker.

The answer is to – finally – get serious about enforcing over-rates, which is a whole other story. There are already plenty of more outrageous examples of interruptions that are not germane to the contest (see the link).

But you will find that once a few batsmen fall to the dreaded Mankad, they will learn pretty quickly to stay in their crease. It’s not that hard.

Comments
View Comments