The moral outrage over the “Mankading” by Indian spinner Deepti Sharma of England batter Charlie Dean has far outstripped that over the war breaking out in Ukraine. The debate over the incident that occurred in England in a dead rubber ODI has raged on with a fair amount of self-righteousness being spewed in the direction of the female “Mankad”.
Vinoo Mankad, an all-time great all-rounder who accomplished far more than running out Australian opener Bill Brown twice on the 1947-48 tour, including once in a Test match. Sadly, his name is perpetuated whenever the running out of a non-striker stealing ground for a sharp single is effected, even though such a dismissal has always been legal and supported by the laws of cricket.
The game, which has laws rather than rules, has always considered itself a metaphor for fair play, which is why certain hyperbole in terms of a moral outrage is seen whenever the spirit of the game is breached, as in, say, Greg Chappell bowling underarm in an ODI against New Zealand while his wicket-keeper Rod Marsh kept shaking his head in disagreement over the tactic.
It is in the laws of cricket but not in the playbook of fair play, which is why poor Deepti is being pilloried by the media, much as Ravi Ashwin was when he ran out Joss Buttler once in the IPL. The problem with the rigmarole following such dismissals is that running out of the non-striker is thought of as a sharp practice. Curiously, batsmen stealing inches, feet or even yards to take off for a run is not considered such an unholy thing.
A suggestion has been made that the issue can be avoided altogether if non-strikers stay in their crease until the ball is delivered, which is a bit like saying road mishaps will not happen if there are no potholes and speeding drivers. A valuable suggestion is the laws should change once again to say “Mankading” should not be allowed once the bowling arm is raised for delivery. That would take subterfuge out of the equation.
There has been such a shindig over Deepti’s tactics in ending an ODI with the run-out that myriad instances of the same mode of dismissal have gone virtually unnoticed. The win-at-all costs attitude creeping into the modern game may be to blame but playing by the laws cannot be condemned viciously as has been done in this case. In order to preserve the spirit of cricket without acrimony, the law can change, too....