‘Deceived’: Cricket’s mad Mankad verdict
Only cricket can come up with an explanation as ridiculous as this.
The game's lawmakers at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) have on Wednesday morning released a statement to address the furore surrounding Indian star Ravi Ashwin's Mankad dismissal of English batsman Jos Buttler during their IPL clash.
Buttler, playing for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, was run out at the non-striker's end by Kings XI Punjab captain Ashwin during Punjab's 14-run win.
The method of dismissal, named after former India player Vinoo Mankad, is legal but is seen by many as going against the spirit of the game, unless the batsman has been persistently backing up and warned first.
The incident was all the more contentious as Buttler was still in his crease when Ashwin arrived, only for the bowler to pull out of his action and wait for him to step forward before whipping off the bails.
Ashwin has denied ever deliberately pulling up early to bait Buttler into leaving his crease.
This has emerged as the major point of contention in the swirling debate, with many cricket legends coming out to publicly call Ashwin a liar.
The MCC's statement to clarify its position only further clouded the debate and reinforced the divide separating the cricket world.
The statement claimed it would have been correct for Buttler to have been given both out and not out, depending on the match officials' interpretation of the law 41.16: Non-striker leaving his/her ground early.
"This law is essential. Without it, non-strikers could back up at liberty, several yards down the pitch and a law is needed to prevent such action," the MCC statement read on Wednesday.
"The crux of the issue is when the non-striker can safely leave his/her ground, and what the bowler can do to effect this form of dismissal without courting controversy.
"To clarify, it has never been in the laws that a warning should be given to the non-striker and nor is it against the spirit of cricket to run out a non-striker who is seeking to gain an advantage by leaving his/her ground early.
"Yesterday's incident could have been ruled out or not out, depending on how "the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball" is interpreted.
"Some feel that Ashwin delayed his action to allow Buttler the chance to leave his ground and that Buttler was in his ground when he expected the ball to be released.
"If it was a deliberate delay, that would be unfair and against the spirit of cricket. Ashwin claims this not to be the case.
"The TV umpire had to make a decision and, under the law (and indeed the ICC's interpretation of them, which clarifies the expected moment of release as when the arm reaches its highest point), it was understandable how he opted to give Buttler out."
Cricket commentators rallied against the ambiguous, confusing statement - and against the game's failure to take action against Ashwin.
English legend Darren Gough called on Ashwin to be sacked as captain of Punjab, while English test great David Lloyd said Ashwin deceived Buttler.
"I would rather lose than do what Ashwin did, I really would," Gough told TalkSport Radio.
"I could not do it. Jos was just half asleep. I've seen some ex-cricketers saying, 'You know the rules, he should be looking at the bowler,' but it's absolutely ridiculous.
"From an experienced cricketer like Ashwin to do this and then talk in the press conference about how it wasn't premeditated… that was an embarrassment. '
"How can he continue to lead the Kings XI outfit? I do not know. Privately his teammates will be embarrassed by what happened. They couldn't look their opponents in the eye afterwards.
"It was premeditated out of desperation."
Lloyd said: "I would argue Ashwin didn't go about things correctly.
"It's only my opinion, but I thought that Ashwin was trying to deceive the batsman."
Indian test great Erapalli Prasanna said Ashwin "is not telling the truth".
"He is feeling guilty and he is trying to cover up," he said according to Times Now.
"I don't think he is clear to himself. He is bluffing. He is not telling the truth."
Here’s the MCC on the Mankad. So he could’ve been safe or out, depending on interpretation 🤷🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/mtcLTXQw8e— Guy Heveldt (@GuyHeveldt) 26 March 2019
It comes as Aussie star Pat Cummins said he would not want to ever win a game from a Mankad.
"I wouldn't want to win a game like that," Australian quick Cummins said in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday evening.
"It didn't really sit well with me ... it was a pretty bad look. "If a batsman is trying to steal a run you can kind of understand, but I didn't think Jos was doing anything untoward.
"You could probably almost argue when he was going to release the ball, he would have been in his crease."
The legal style of dismissal is frowned upon by many players and it had been customary for bowlers to offer the non-striker a warning before completing a Mankad.
Laws dictate that the timing of a Mankad must be when "the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball", which arguably wasn't the case in the latest controversy.
Several players in Australia's 15-man squad were far from impressed. "I spoke to a couple of the boys and they all sort of said the same, that it didn't really sit well with them," Cummins said.
"The rule is there but I thought in that instance it was a real stretch. "I think the old rule of thumb of warning a batsman is totally fine."
Royals ambassador Shane Warne called Ashwin's conduct "disgraceful" and embarrassing, while Matthew Hayden termed it a "terrible gesture" in commentary. Warne called Ashwin "an embarrassment to the game" during a series of fired-up messages on Twitter.
"I hope the BCCI doesn't condone this sort of behaviour in the IPL," Warne wrote.
"This win at all costs mentality has got to stop.
"As captain of your side you set the standard of the way the team wants to play and what the team stands for!
"Why do such a disgraceful and low act like that tonight? You must live with yourself and FYI - it's to (sic) late to say sorry Mr Ashwin. You will be remembered for that low act." Warne argued Ashwin had no intention of actually bowling, so it should have been called dead ball.
Ashwin insisted his actions were "there within the rules of the game".
"Look, it was very instinctive," he said.
"On my part, it was very instinctive. It was not planned or anything like that. It's there within the rules of the game. I don't understand where the spirit of the game comes, naturally if it's there in the rules, it's there."
- with AFP, AAP