Bowler Ravichandran Ashwin of Kings XI Punjab has kicked up a huge IPL row in “Mankading” Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals. What Ashwin did was within the rules, but there’s a doubt on whether he was baiting the non-striker by not delivering the ball, waiting for Buttler to leave his crease. While the debate will go on forever, what Ashwin did is against conventional sportsmanship. Of course, under the Laws of Cricket — and cricket is a pretentious enough sport to call it “Laws” rather than rules — the batsman doesn’t have to be warned before being “Mankaded”. This term is derived from all-rounder Vinoo Mankad running out Australian opener Bill Brown in the 1947-48 Sydney Test after rehearsing such a dismissal in a first-class match against an Australian XI, but only after having warned the batsman.
Cricket used to pride itself as the gentleman’s game, though its genteel image had long ago been scarred by the increasingly competitive modern world. Ashwin contravened an IPL governing council advice to avoid running out the non-striker, which becomes difficult with habitual offenders like Buttler. Such batsmen tend to steal ground and gain advantage in covering the distance between creases. Cynics may even say T-20 isn’t so much cricket as entertainment, and there’s no place for such tactics. What must be avoided is the inclination of “first world” players to project a lawful run out of the non-striker as a sneakily Asian subterfuge because Asian cricketers have more often been found doing this. Let’s say for now that the “Mankad” run out is just not cricket!