Ashwin-Buttler ‘Mankad’ saga: What does the law say?

Ashwin-Buttler ‘Mankad’ saga: What does the law say?

A bowler may try to run a non-striker out if he sees the latter going outside his crease in the lookout for a run before the former releases the ball.

Jos Buttler's dismissal
Jos Buttler’s dismissal. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The cricketing world was left deeply divided on Tuesday night over the Indian Premier League (IPL) game in Jaipur where Rajasthan Royals (RR) took on the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). It was during the 13th over of the RR innings that the Kings captain Ravichandran Ashwin ran opponent batsman Jos Buttler out at the non-striker’s end after he found the English batter leaving the crease before the delivery was bowled.

The unusual dismissal earned Ashwin a backlash as many found it to be unethical. Kings went on to win the game by 14 runs but the victory was certainly marred by that dismissal of Buttler.

Named after Vindoo Mankad, the legendary Indian all-rounder

The dismissal that Ashwin effected is called ‘Mankaded’ after the name of India’s legendary all-rounder Vinoo Mankad (1917-78). It was over seven decades ago, during India’s first tour of Australia under the captaincy of Lala Amarnath, that the left-arm spinner had ran out an opponent batsman that manner. The batter was Bill Brown and the venue was Sydney. In fact, Mankad had also dismissed the same Brown in a side match on that tour against Australia XI.

The Australian media had slammed the Indian bowler then saying what he did was against the spirit of the game. However, some Australians stood by him, including the icon Don Bradman, who was leading Australia in that tour. Ever since the act of dismissing a batsman at the non-striker’s end has been named as “Mankaded”.

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Indian left-arm spinner bowler Vinoo Mankad was the first international cricketer to run out a player in such a manner. The batsman was Australia’s Bill Brown, and the match was the Sydney Test of 1947. Interestingly, Mankad had already dismissed Brown in an earlier match, a first-class match to be precise, against an Australian XI.

The Australian press accused Mankad of being unsportsmanlike, although some Australians – including then captain Don Bradman – defended Mankad’s actions. Since this incident, the name ‘Mankaded’ stuck.

How does ‘Mankaded’ work and is it legal?

A bowler may try to run a non-striker out if he sees the latter going outside his crease in the lookout for a run before the former releases the ball. He can do so without any giving any warning. There is no ground of illegality in the dismissal. Under Law 41.16 of the Laws of Cricket code maintained by the Marylebone Cricket Club, London, the umpire will give the verdict against the non-striking batsman if he is found outside the crease and ran out by the bowler and the fielding side appeals.

The rule ‘Non-striker leaving his/her ground early’ says: “If the non-striker is out of his/her ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him/her out.”

Not technically wrong but ethically not right

However, although it is technically not wrong, the spirit of the game doesn’t always support it as it is deemed unethical by many. There have been several instances of “Mankaded” in international cricket and even the two players – Ashwin and Buttler – who found themselves involved in the latest controversy, have had similar experiences in international matches in the past. Buttler was once ‘Mankaded’ by Sri Lankan spinner Sachithra Senanayake in 2014 while in 2011-12, Ashwin mad ‘Mankaded’ Lankan batsman Lahiru Thirimanne but on that occasion, senior India players like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag brought the batsman back.

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Kapil Dev had ‘Mankaded’ Peter Kirsten once; Walsh did not even in a crunch WC game

Even the great Kapil Dev had once ‘Mankaded’ South African batsman Peter Kirsten during a ODI in Port Elizabeth though he had warned the batsman a number of times before finally dismissing him. There was also an instance when the Caribbean great Courtney Walsh decided against ‘Mankading’ Pakistani batsman Saleem Jaffar in a crucial World Cup match in Lahore in 1987 even as the non-striker was out of his crease looking for a run. Pakistan went on to win the game but the entire world had bowed before Walsh for his sporting spirit.

Why the Jaipur incident has raised a storm?

Apart from the fact that ‘Mankaded’ is still a debatable issue, what caused a bigger controversy in Jaipur is Ashwin’s timing. Buttler was well inside the crease when Ashwin arrived to bowl and then waited for the batsman to leave the crease. The question is being raised is: Was Ashwin right by waiting for the non-striker to leave the crease and run him out?

The focus has gone back to the words “when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball” as people have been debating what does “expected to release the ball” exactly mean? The word “expected” has given birth to scope of subjective debating and there seems to be no easy way out to settle it.

The RR camp condemned the incident and Ashwin while the Kings XI captain said what he did was well within the ambits of law.
The polarisation over the issue was more on the national lines as several Indians backed Ashwin while the Englishmen were distraught over it. Veteran cricket writer Lawrence Booth summed it best in his tweet: “The Ashwin/Buttler Mankad seems to have divided critics broadly along national lines. As ever.”

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